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Henry Maudslay 

English and American 
Tool Builders 



Museum of the Peaceful Arts, City of New York, 

Professor of Industrial Engineering, 

New York University 

First Printed in 1916 
Reprinted in 1926 


LONDON: 6 & 8 BOUVERIE ST., E. C. 4 



// ^^ 

Copyright, 1916 


Joseph Wickham Roe 

First published May, 1916 
Republished March, 1926 

"Man is a Tool-using Animal. Weak in himself, and of 
small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest- 
soled, of some half -square foot, insecurely enough; has to 
straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him. Feeblest 
of bipeds ! Three quintals are a crushing load for him ; the steer 
of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag. Nevertheless 
he can use Tools, can devise Tools: with these the granite 
mountain melts into light dust before him; seas are his smooth 
highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do 
you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing, with 
Tools he is all." 

Carlyle: "Sartor Resartus," Chap. IV. 



The purpose of this book is to bring out the impor- 
tance of the work and influence of the great tool build- 
ers. Few realize that their art is fundamental to all 
modern industrial arts. Without machine tools modern 
machinery could not be built. Little is known by the 
general public as to who the great tool builders were, 
and less is known of their lives and work. 

History takes good care of soldiers, statesmen and 
authors. It is even kind to engineers like Watt, Fulton 
and Stephenson, who have conspicuously and directly 
affected society at large. But little is known, even 
among mechanics, of the men whose work was mainly 
within the engineering profession, and who served 
other engineers rather than the general public. The 
lives and the personalities of men like Maudslay, 
Nasmyth and Eli Whitney, can hardly fail of interest 
to the mechanic of today. They were busy men and 
modest, whose records are mainly in iron and steel, and 
in mechanical devices which are used daily with little 
thought of their origin. 

In following the history of English and American 
tool builders, the query arises as to whether there might 
not have been important contributions to tool building 
from other countries. Others have contributed to some 
degree, but practically all of the creative work in tool 
building has been done in these two countries. Although 
the French were pioneers in many mechanical improve- 
ments, they have always shown an aptitude for refine- 
ments and ingenious novelties rather than for com- 
mercial production on a large scale. They have 


influenced other nations more through their ideas than 
through their machinery. The Swiss are clever arti- 
sans, particularly in fine work, but they have excelled 
in personal skill, operating on a small scale, rather 
than in manufacturing, Germany has, under the 
Empire, developed splendid mechanics, but the princi- 
pal machine tools had taken shape before 1870, when 
the Empire began. The history of English and Ameri- 
can tool building, therefore, covers substantially the 
entire history of the art. 

Almost the only book upon tool builders and their 
work is Samuel Smiles' "Industrial Biography," which 
is out of print and little known. It is an admirable and 
interesting book, and a mine of information upon the 
English tool builders down to about 1850. The writer 
has used it freely and would urge those who are inter- 
ested in the subject to go to it for further information 
on the early mechanics. It was written, however, over 
fifty years ago and contains nothing about modern 
developments or about the American tool builders who 
have contributed so much. 

The writer has tried to trace the origin and rise of 
tool building in America and to give something of its 
spread in recent years. The industrial life of the 
United States is so vast that a comiDrehensive history 
of even a single industry, such as tool building, would 
run far beyond the limits of one volume. This book, 
therefore, is confined to the main lines of influence in 
tool building and to the personalities and cities which 
have been most closely identified mth it. The later 
history of American tool building has never been 
written. For this the writer has had to rely largely 
upon personal information from those who are familiar 
with it, and who have had a part in it. 


Part of the material contained in this book has 
appeared from time to time in the American Machinist, 
and the writer would acknowledge his indebtedness 
most of all to Mr. L. P. Alford, the editor of that jour- 
nal. His help and counsel have given these pages much 
of such value as they possess. So many have helped 
with information, corrections and suggestions that 
acknowledgments can be made only to a few. The 
writer would particularly thank Mr. L. D. Burlingame, 
Mr. Ned Lawrence, Mr. James Hartness, Mr. Coleman 
Sellers and Mr. Clarence Bement. 

If these pages serve to stimulate interest in the lives 
and work of the tool builders, to whom we owe much, 
they will fulfill the hope of the writer. 

Sheffield Scientific School, 

Yale University, 

October, 1915. 


In reprinting this book certain minor corrections have 
been made. In the later chapters references occur here 
and there to the "present" condition of various plants 
and firms. After careful consideration, it seems wise 
to let these statements stand as they were written in 
1915. Interest in this subject centers chiefly on the 
early history of the plants and firms rather than on 
recent changes. To revise the statements, bringing 
them up to date, would add little. With the ever 
shifting status of a live industry, the statements, so 
revised, would remain correct for only a short time. 
Therefore, when a reference is made to present condi- 


tions it should be understood to cover those at the begin- 
ning of the World War, which is a natural dividing point 
in our industrial history. 

The general predictions made in the last two para- 
graphs of the book have been borne out by the develop- 
ments in American toolbuilding since that time. 
Museum of the Peaceful Arts, 
City of New York, 
February, 1926. 











































Influence of the Early Tool Builders . 1 

Wilkinson and Bramah 11 

Bentham and Brunei 22 

Henry Maudslay 33 

Inventors of the Planer 50 

Gearing and Millwork 63 

Fairbairn and Bodmer 71 

James Nasmyth 81 

Whitworth 98 

Early American Mechanics .... 109 
The Rise of Interchangeable Manufac- 
ture 128 

Whitney and North 145 

The Colt Armory 164 

The Colt Workman— Pratt & Whitney 173 

Robbins & Lawrence 186 

The Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing 

Company 202 

Central New England 216 

The Naugatuck Valley 231 

Philadelphia 239 

The Western Tool Builders .... 261 

Appendix A 281 

Appendix B, The Jennings Gun . . 292 
A Partial Bibliography on Tool 

Building 295 


Henry Maudslay Frontispiece 

Fig. 1. Smeaton's Boring Machine, Car- 

ron Iron Works, 1769 . . . Facing page 2 

Fig. 2. French Lathes of about 1772 . . Facing page 2 

Fig. 3. French Slide-Rest, 1772 . . . Facing page 6 
Fig. 4. French Lathe for Turning Ovals, 

1772 Facing page 6 

Fig. 5. Genealogy of the Early English 

Tool Builders page 7 

Fig. 6. John "Wilkinson Facing page 14 

Fig. 7. Wilkinson's Boring Machine . Facing page 14 
Fig. 8. Eminent Men of Science Living 

in 1807-8 ....... Facing page 20 

Fig. 9. Sir Samuel Bentham .... Facing page 22 

Fig. 10. Sir Marc Isambard Brunei . . Facing page 26 

Fig. 11. Brunei's Mortising Machine . . Facing page 30 

Fig. 12. Brunei's Shaping Machine . . Facing page 30 
Fig. 13. French Screw-Cutting Lathe, 

Previous to 1569 .... page 37 
Fig. 14. French Screw-Cutting Lathe, 

about 1740 page 37 

Fig. 15. Maudslay 's Screw-Cutting Lathe, 

about 1797 Facing page 42 

Fig. 16. Maudslay 's Screw-Cutting Lathe, 

about 1800 Facing page 42 

Fig. 17. French Planing Machine by 

Nicholas Forq, 1751 . . . Facing page 50 

Fig. 18. Matthew Murray Facing page 58 

Fig. 19. Richard Roberts Facing page 58 

Fig. 20. Roberts' Planer, Built in 1817 . Facing page 60 

Fig. 21. Roberts' Back-Geared Lathe . . Facing page 60 

Fig. 22. James Nasmyth Facing page 82 


Fig. 23. First Sketch of the Steam Ham- 
mer, November 24, 1839 . . Facing page 94 
Fig. 24. Model of the First Steam Ham- 
mer Facing page 94 

Fig. 25. Sir Joseph Whitworth . . . Facing page 102 

Fig. 26. Samuel Slater Facing page 122 

Fig. 27. Genealogy of the New England 

Gun Makers page 139 

Fig. 28. The First Milling Machine, Built 

by Eli Whitney about 1818 . Facing page 142 
Fig. 29. Blanc hard "Gun-Stocking" 
Lathe, Built in 1818 for the 

Springfield Armory . . . Facing page 142 

Fig. 30. Eli Whitney Facing page 152 

Fig. 31. Samuel Colt Facing page 164 

Fig. 32. The Colt Armory Facing page 168 

Fig. 33. Root's Chucking Lathe, about 

1855 Facing page 170 

Fig. 34. Root's Splining Machine, about 

1855 Facing page 170 

Fig. 35. Francis A. Pratt Facing page 178 

Fig. 36. Amos Whitney Facing page 178 

Fig. 37. Genealogy of the Robbins & Law- 
rence Shop page 187 

Fig. 38. Robbins & Lawrence Armory, 

Windsor, Vt Facing page 190 

Frederick W. Howe .... Facing page 196 

Richard S. Lawrence .... Facing page 196 

James Hartness Facing page 198 

Joseph R. Brown Facing page 202 

First Universal Milling Machine, 

1862 Facing page 208 

Early Micrometer Calipers . . Facing page 212 
Genealogy of the Worcester Tool 

Builders page 223 

Lucius W. Pond Facing page 228 

Salmon W. Putnam .... Facing page 228 




















Fig. 48. Hiram "W. Hayden .... Facing page 232 

Fig. 49. Israel Holmes Facing page 232 

Fig. 50. Genealogy of the Naugatuck 

Brass Industry page 235 

Fig. 51. William Sellers Facing page 248 

Fig. 52. Coleman Sellers Facing page 252 

Fig. 53. William B. Bement .... Facing page 252 

Fig. 54. Worcester R. Warner .... Facing page 262 

Fig. 55. Ambrose Swasey Facing page 262 

Fig. 56. The " Mult-au-matic " Lathe, 

1914 Facing page 276 

Fig. 57. Machine Tool Building Area of 

the United States, 1915 . . page 279 



Well-informed persons are aware of the part which 
machinery in general has had on modem industrial life. 
But the profound influence which machine tools have 
had in that development is scarcely realized, even by 
tool builders themselves. 

Three elements came into industrial life during the 
latter part of the eighteenth century. First, the devel- 
opment of modern banking and the stock company 
brought out the small private hoards from their hiding 
places, united them, and made them available for indus- 
trial undertakings operating on the scale called for by 
modern requirements. Second, Watt's development of 
the steam engine and its application to the production 
of continuous rotative motion gave the requisite source 
of power. But neither the steam engine itself nor the 
machinery of production was possible until the third ele- 
ment, modern machine tools, supplied the means of 
working metals accurately and economically. 

It is well to glance for a moment at the problems 
which were involved in building the first steam engine. 
Watt had been working for several years on the steam 
engine when the idea of the separate condenser came to 
him on that famous Sunday afternoon walk on the Glas- 
gow Green, in the spring of 1765, and, to use his own 
words, "in the course of one or two days the invention 
was thus far (that is, as a pumping engine) complete in 


my mind. ' " He was a skilled instrument maker and his 
first small model was fairly successful, but when he under- 
took **the practice of mechanics in great," his skill and 
all the skill of those about him was incapable of boring 
satisfactorily a cylinder 6 inches in diameter and 2 feet 
long; and he had finally to resort to one which was 
hammered. For ten weary years he struggled to realize 
his plans in a full-sized engine, unable to find either the 
workmen or the tools which could make it a commercial 
success. His chief difficulty lay in keeping the piston 
tight. He "wrapped it around with cork, oiled rags, 
tow, old hats, paper, and other things, but still there were 
open spaces left, sufficient to let the air in and the steam 
out.'" Small wonder! for we find him complaining that 
in an 18-inch diameter cylinder, ''at the worst place the 
long diameter exceeded the short by three-eighths of an 
inch." When Smeaton first saw the engine he reported 
to the Society of Engineers that ''neither the tools nor 
the workmen existed that could manufacture so complex 
a machine with sufficient precision.'" 

Smeaton himself had designed a boring machine in 
1769 for the Carron Iron Works for machining cannon, 
an illustration of which is given in Fig. 1.* It consisted 
of a head with inserted cutters mounted on a long, light, 
overhung boring bar. The work was forced forward on 
a rude carriage, as shown. The method of supporting the 
cutter head, indicated in the section, shows an ingenious 
attempt to obtain a movable support from an inaccurate 
surface. One need hardly say that the work resulting 
was inaccurate. 

Fortunately, in 1774, John Wilkinson, of Bersham, hit 

1 Smiles: "Boulton & Watt," pp. 97, 98. London, 1904. 

2 Ibid., p. 114. 
s Ibid., p. 186. 

* "Engineer," London, March 4, 1910; p. 217. Drawn from the descrip- 
tion given in Farey's "Treatise on the Steam Engine." 


Figure 1. Smeaton's Boring Machine 
Carron Iron Works, 1769 

Figure 2. French Lathes of about 1772 


upon the idea, which had escaped both Smeaton and 
Watt, of making the boring bar heavier, running it clear 
through the cylinder and giving it a fixed support at 
the outboard end as shown in Fig. 7. The superiority 
of this arrangement was at once manifest, and in 1776 
Boulton wrote that **Mr. Wilkinson has bored us several 
cylinders almost without error; that of 50 inches diam- 
eter, which we have put up at Tipton, does not err the 
thickness of an old shilling in any part. ' '^ For a number 
of years, Wilkinson cast and bored all the cylinders for 
Boulton & Watt. 

The importance to Boulton & Watt of the timely aid of 
Wilkinson's boring machine can hardly be overestimated. 
It made the steam engine a commercial success, and was 
probably the first metal-working tool capable of doing 
large, heavy work with anything like present-day 

We hardly realize the crudity of the tools available in 
the eighteenth century. In all machinery the principal 
members were of wood, as that could be worked by the 
hand tools then in use. The fastenings and smaller 
parts only were of metal, and consisted of castings and 
forgings fitted by hand. There were some lathes of the 
very simplest type. Most of them were '^pole" lathes, 
operated by a cord reaching from a foot treadle, around 
the work itself, and up to a pole or wooden spring 
attached to the ceiling. The work rotated alternately 
forward and backward, and was caught with a hand tool 
each time as it came forward. Two are shown in Fig. 2, 
one at the back and one at the left. Only the very best 
forms had continuous motion from a direct drive on the 

cFarey: "Treatise on the Steam Engine," p. 328. 1827, 

e Watt's beautiful parallel motion, invented in 1785, was made necessary 

by the fact that there were no planers to machine a crosshead and guides. 

Planers were not developed until thirty years later. 


live spindle, as shown at the right of the same figure. 
This figure is reproduced from the French Dictionnaire 
des Sciences, published in 1772. Such lathes were almost 
useless for metal cutting, as they lacked both the neces- 
sary power and a holding device strong enough and accu- 
rate enough to guide a tool. The slide-rest, while it had 
been invented, had not been put into practical form or 
come into general use. There were a few rude drilling 
and boring machines, but no planing machines, either for 
metal or wood. The tool equipment of the machinist, 
or ** millwright," as he was called, consisted chiefly of 
a hammer, chisel and file. The only measuring devices 
were calipers and a wooden rule, with occasional refer- 
ence perhaps to "the thickness of an old shilUng," as 
above. Hand forging was probably as good as or better 
than that of today. Foundry work had come up to at 
least the needs of the time. But the appliances for cutting 
metal were little better than those of the Middle Ages. 

Such was the mechanical equipment in 1775; practi- 
cally what it had been for generations. By 1850 it was 
substantially that of today. In fact, most of this change 
came in one generation, from about 1800 to 1840. Since 
that time there have been many improvements and refine- 
ments, but the general principles remain little changed. 
With so wonderful a transformation in so short a time, 
several questions arise almost inevitably: Where did 
this development take place, who brought it about, and 
why was it so rapid? 

The first question is fairly simple. England and 
America produced the modern machine tool. In the 
period mentioned, England developed most of the gen- 
eral machine tools of the present day; the boring ma- 
chine, engine lathe, planer, shaper, the steam hammer 
and standard taps and dies. Somewhat later, but par- 
tially coincident with this, America deYfiloped the special 


machine tool, the drop hammer, automatic lathes, the 
widespread commercial use of limit gauges, and the inter- 
changeable system of manufacture. 

In a generalization such as this, the broad lines of 
influence must be given the chief consideration. Some of 
the most valuable general tools, such as the universal 
miller and the grinder, and parts of the standard tools, 
as the apron in the lathe, are of American origin. But, 
with all allowances, most of the general machine tools 
were developed in England and spread from there 
throughout the world either by utilization of their 
design or by actual sale. On the other hand, the inter- 
changeable system of manufacture, in a well-developed 
form, was in operation in England in the manufacture 
of ships' blocks at Portsmouth shortly after 1800; and 
yet this block-making machinery had been running for 
two generations with little or no influence on the general 
manufacturing of the country, when England, in 1855, 
imported from America the Enfield gun machinery and 
adopted what they themselves styled the ''American'* 
interchangeable system of gun making.'' 

The second question as to who brought this change 
about is not so simple. It is not easy to assign the credit 
of an invention. Mere priority of suggestion or even 
of experiment seems hardly sufiicient. Nearly every 
great improvement has been invented independently by 
a number of men, sometimes almost simultaneously, 
but often in widely separated times and places. Of 
these, the man who made it a success is usually found 
to have united to the element of invention a superior 
mechanical skill. He is the one who first embodied the 
invention in such proportions and mechanical design as 
to make it commercially available, and from him its 
permanent influence spreads. The chief credit is due to 

» See page 139. 


him because he impressed it on the world. Some exam- 
ples may illustrate this point. 

Leonardo da Vinci in the fifteenth century anticipated 
many of the modern tools. ^ His sketches are fascinating 
and show a wonderful and fertile ingenuity, but, while 
we wonder, we smile at their proportions. Had not a 
later generation of mechanics arisen to re-invent and 
re-design these tools, mechanical engineering would still 
be as unknown as when he died. 

Take the slide-rest. It is clearly shown in the French 
encyclopedia of 1772, see Fig. 3, and even in an edition 
of 1717. Bramah, Bentham and Brunei, in England, and 
Sylvanus Brown,^ in America, are all said to have 
invented it. David AVilkinson, of Pawtucket, E. L, was 
granted a patent for it in 1798.^° But the invention has 
been, and will always be, credited to Henry Maudslay, of 
London. It is right that it should be, for he first designed 
and built it properly, developed its possibilities, and 
made it generally useful. The modem slide-rest is a 
lineal descendant from his. 

Blanchard was by no means the first to turn irregular 
forms on a lathe. The old French rose engine lathe, 
shoAvn in Fig. 4, embodied the idea, but Blanchard accom- 
plished it in a way more mechanical, of a far ^vider range 
of usefulness, and his machine is in general use to this 

To the third question as to why this development when 
once begun should have been so rapid, there are probably 
two answers. First, an entirely new demand for accurate 
tools arose during these years, springing from the inven- 
tions of Arkwright, "Whitney, "Watt, Fulton, Stephenson 
and others. The textile industries, the steam engine, 

8 American Machinist, Vol. 32, Part 2, pp. 821wand 868. 

8 Goodrich: "History of Pawtucket," pp. 47-48. Pawtucket, 1876. 

10 Ibid., p. 51. 


o O g 

.S a M 
a® =3 


1746 - 1814 

Invented Lock, Hydnau- 
lie press, 4-wciy cock, 
and wood working 



1757 -1831 

Sir MARC I. 
1769 -1849 

BLOCK MCHRY- 1800-08 

1771 - I83I 

Slide rest for metal work. Block machinery, 
Flour, Sawmill and Mint mach'ry, Punches, 
Mill and Marine 5+eam Engines, Fine screw 
cutting-Laid basis for La+he, Planer and 5lotter 


Slide Lathe, 
Planer 1820 and 1824 
Manufactured Taps and Dies 
Standard Screw Threads 


D -Valve 


Cutting of 







Std.Screw Threads 

Foremost tool 

builder of the 

I9» Cenfurjj 

Figure 5. Genealogy op the Early English 
Tool Builders 


railways, and the scores of industries they called 
into being, all called for better and stronger means of 
production. While the rapidity of the development was 
due partly to the pressure of this demand, a second ele- 
ment, that of cumulative experience, was present, and 
can be clearly traced. Wilkinson was somewhat of an 
exception, as he was primarily an iron master and not a 
tool builder, so his relationship to other tool builders is 
not so direct or clear. But the connection between Bra- 
mah, Maudslay, Clement, Whitworth and Nasmyth, is 
shown in the ** genealogical' ' table in Fig. 5. 

Bramah had a shop in London where, for many years, 
he manufactured locks and built hydraulic machinery 
and woodworking tools. Maudslay, probably the finest 
mechanician of his day, went to work for Bramah when 
only eighteen years old and became his foreman in less 
than a year. He left after a few years and started in 
for himself, later taking Field into partnership, and 
Maudslay & Field's became one of the most famous shops 
in the world. 

Sir Samuel Bentham, who was inspector general of the 
British navy, began the design of a set of machines for 
manufacturing pulley blocks at the Portsmouth navy 
yard. He soon met Marc Isambard Brunei, a brilliant 
young Royalist officer, who had been driven out of France 
during the Revolution, and had started working on block 
machinery through a conversation held at Alexander 
Hamilton's dinner table while in America a few years 
before. Bentham saw the superiority of Brunei's plans, 
substituted them for his own, and commissioned him to 
go ahead. 

In his search for someone to build the machinery, 
Brunei was referred to Maudslay, then just starting in 
for himself. Maudslay built the machines, forty-four in 
all, and they were a brilliant success. There has been 


considerable controversy as to whether Bentham or 
Brunei designed them. "While Maudslay's skill appears 
in the practical details, the general scheme was undoubt- 
edly Brunei's. In a few of the machines Bentham 's 
designs seem to have been used, but he was able enough 
and generous enough to set aside most of his own designs 
for the better ones of Brunei. 

Of the earlier tool builders, Maudslay was the greatest. 
He, more than any other, developed the slide-rest and 
he laid the basis for the lathe, planer and slotter. His 
powerful personality is brought out in Nasmyth's auto- 
biography written many years later. Nasmyth was a 
young boy, eager, with rare mechanical skill and one 
ambition, to go to London and work for the great Mr. 
Maudslay. He tells of their meeting, of the interest 
aroused in the older man, and of his being taken into 
Maudslay's personal office to work beside him. It is a 
pleasing picture, the young man and the older one, two 
of the best mechanics in all England, working side by 
side, equally proud of each other. 

Joseph Clement came to London and worked for 
Bramah as chief draftsman and as superintendent of 
his works. After Bramah 's death he went to Maudslay's 
and later went into business for himself. He was an 
exquisite draftsman, a fertile inventor, and had a very 
important part in the development of the screw-cutting 
lathe and planer. Joseph Whitworth, the most influen- 
tial tool builder of the nineteenth century, worked for 
Maudslay and for Clement and took up their work at the 
point where they left off. Under his influence machine 
tools were given a strength and precision which they had 
never had before. Richard Roberts was another pupil 
of Maudslay's whose influence, though important, was 
not so great as that of the others. 

We have an excellent example of what this succession 


meant. Nasmyth tells of the beautiful set of taps and 
dies which Maudslay made for his own use, and that he 
standardized the screw-thread practice of his own shop. 
Clement carried this further. He established a definite 
number of threads per inch for each size, extended the 
standardization of threads, and began the regular manu- 
facture of dies and taps. He fluted the taps by means of 
milling cutters and made them with small shanks, so that 
they might drop through the tapped hole. Whitworth, 
taking up Clement's work, standardized the screw 
threads for all England and brought order out of chaos. 

Some account of the growth of machine tools in the 
hands of these men mil be given later. Enough has been 
said here to show the cumulative effect of their experi- 
ence, and its part in the industrial advance of the first 
half of the nineteenth century. Similar successions of 
American mechanics will be shown later. 

Writing from the standpoint of fifty years ago. Smiles 
quotes Sir William Fairbairn: " 'The mechanical opera- 
tions of the present day could not have been accom- 
plished at any cost thirty years ago ; and what was then 
considered impossible is now performed mth an exacti- 
tude that never fails to accomplish the end in view. * For 
this we are mainly indebted to the almost creative power 
of modern machine tools, and the facilities which they 
present for the production and reproduction of other 

"SmOes: "Industrial Biography," p. 399. 


In the previous chapter it was stated that John Wil- 
kinson, of Bersham, made the steam engine commercially 
possible by first boring Watt's cylinders with the degree 
of accuracy necessary, and that his boring machine was 
probably the first metal-cutting tool capable of doing 
large work with anything like modern accuracy. 
Although Wilkinson was not primarily a tool builder but 
an iron master, this achievement alone is sufficient to 
make him interesting to the tool builders of today. 

He was born in 1728. His father made his financial 
start by manufacturing a crimping iron for ironing the 
fancy ruffles of the day. John Wilkinson first started a 
blast furnace at Belston and later joined his father in an 
iron works the latter had built at Bersham, near Chester. 
By developing a method of smelting and puddling iron 
with coal instead of wood-charcoal, he obtained an 
immense commercial advantage over his rivals and soon 
became a powerful factor in the iron industry. Later, he 
built other works, notably one at Broseley, near Coal- 
brookdale on the Severn. 

One of the important branches of his work was the 
casting and finishing of cannon. It was in connection 
with this that he invented the boring machine referred 
to. He bored the first cylinder for Boulton & Watt in 
1775. Farey, in his ''History of the Steam Engine," 



In the old method, the borer for cutting the metal was not 
guided in its progress/ and therefore followed the incorrect 
form given to the cylinder in casting it ; it was scarcely insured 
that every part of the cylinder should be circular; and there 
was no certainty that the cylinder would be straight. This 
method was thought sufficient for old engines; but Mr. Watt's 
engines required greater precision. 

Mr. "Wilkinson's machine, which is now the common boring- 
machine, has a straight central bar of great strength, which 
occupies the central axis of the cylinder, during the operation 
of boring; and the borer, or cutting instrument, is accurately 
fitted to slide along this bar, which, being made perfectly 
straight, serves as a sort of ruler, to give a rectilinear direction 
to the borer in its progress, so as to produce a cylinder equally 
straight in the length, and circular in the circumference. This 
method insures all the accuracy the subject is capable of ; for if 
the cylinder is cast ever so crooked, the machine will bore it 
straight and true, provided there is metal enough to form the 
required cylinder by cutting away the superfluities.^ 

Wilkinson's relations with Boulton & Watt became 
very intimate. He showed his confidence in the new 
engine by ordering the first one built at Soho to blow the 
bellows of his iron works at Broseley. Great interest was 
felt in the success of this engine. Other iron manufac- 
turers suspended their building operations to see what 
the engine could do and Watt himself superintended 
every detail of its construction and erection. Before it 
was finished Boulton wrote to Watt : 

Pray tell Mr. "Wilkinson to get a dozen cylinders cast and 
bored from 12 to 50 inches in diameter, and as many condensers 
of suitable sizes; the latter must be sent here, as we will keep 
them ready fitted up, and then an engine can be turned out of 

1 See Pig. 1. 
2Farey: "Treatise on the Steam Engine," p. 326. 1827. 


WILKINSON AND BRAMAH \^^ '''^;'^, ''^ 

hand in two or three weeks. I have fixed my mind upon making \V^. ^ ^'// 
from 12 to 15 reciprocating, and 50 rotative engines per annum.^ 

This letter is interesting as showing Boulton's clear 
grasp of the principles of manufacturing. Later, when 
Boulton & Watt were hard pressed financially, Wilkin- 
son took a considerable share in their business and when 
the rotative engine was developed he ordered the first 
one. He consequently has the honor of being the pur- 
chaser of the first reciprocating and the first rotary 
engine turned out by Watt. Later, when Watt was edu- 
cating his son to take up his work, he sent him for a 
year to Wilkinson's iron works at Bersham, to learn 
their methods. 

Fig. 7, taken from an old encyclopedia of manufactur- 
ing and engineering, shows the boring machine used for 
boring Watt's steam cylinders. 

On two oaken stringers SS, frames FF were mounted 
which carried a hollow boring bar A driven from the 
end. The cylinder to be bored was clamped to saddles, 
as shown. The cutters were carried on a head which 
rotated with the bar and was fed along it by means of an 
internal feed-rod and rack. In the machine shown the 
feeding was done by a weight and lever which actuated 
a pinion gearing with the rack R, but later a positive feed, 
through a train of gears operated by the main boring-bar, 
was used. Two roughing cuts and a finishing cut were 
used, and the average feed is given as %6 inch per revo- 
lution. While this machine may seem crude, a compari- 
son with Smeaton's boring machine, Fig. 1, will show 
how great an advance it was over the best which preceded 

Wilkinson was a pioneer in many lines. He built and 

3 Smiles: "Boulton & Watt," p. 185. London, 1904, 


launclied the first iron vessel and in a letter dated July 
14, 1787, says : 

Yesterday week my iron boat was launched. It answers all 
my expectations, and has convinced the unbelievers who were 
999 in a thousand. It wiU be only a nine days wonder, and then 
be like Columbus's egg.* 

In another letter written a little over a year later, he 

There have been launched two Iron Vessels in my service since 
Sept. 1st : one is a canal boat for this [i.e., Birmingham] naviga- 
tion, the other a barge of 40 tons for the River Severn. The last 
was floated on Monday and is, I expect, at Stourport with a 
loading of bar iron. My clerk at Broseley advises me that she 
swims remarkably light and exceeds my expectations.^ 

In 1788 William Symington built and ran a steam- 
operated boat on Dalswinton Loch in Scotland, which was 
a small, light craft with two hulls, made of tinned sheet- 
iron plates.^ It has been erroneously claimed that this 
was the first iron boat. It was at best the second. 
Although of no commercial importance, it is of very great 
historical interest as it antedated Fulton's ''Clermont" 
by many years. 

Twenty-three years later, in 1810, Onions & Son of 
Broseley built the next iron boats, also for use upon the 
Severn. Five years later Mr. Jervons of Liverpool built 
a small iron boat for use on the Mersey. In 1821 an 
iron vessel was built at the Horsley works in Stafford- 
shire, which sailed from London to Havre and went up 
the Seine to Paris.^ Iron vessels were built from time to 

*"Beitrdge sur GeschicMe der Technik und Industrie," 3 Band. S. 
227. Berlin, 1911. 

5 Ihid., 3 Band. S. 227. 

8 Autobiography of James Nasmyth, p. 30. London, 1883. 

7SmUes: "Men of Invention and Industry," pp. 51-52, New Tork, 

Figure 6. John Wilkinson 












i ^inia^ig 







^^>% 1 



lllffl^' B 

■ ■■Ttiiifl^^^Vj 

^i.,,:.i • 





Figure 7. Wilkinson's Boring Machine 
Used for Machining the Cylinders of Watt Engines 


time after that, but it was fully twenty-five years before 
they came into general use. 

With Abraham Darby, 3d, Wilkinson has the honor 
of having built, in 1779, the first iron bridge, which 
spanned the Severn at Broseley. This bridge had a span 
of 100 feet 6 inches, and a clear height of 48 feet, and 
is standing today as good as ever.* He invented also the 
method of making continuous lead pipe. 

He was a man of great ability, strong and masterful. 
Boulton wrote of him to Watt : 

I can't say but that I admire John Wilkinson for his decisive, 
clear, and distinct character, which is, I think, a first-rate one 
of its kind.^ 

There is a note of qualification in the last clause. With 
all his admirable qualities Wilkinson was not always 
amiable and he was in constant feud with the other 
members of his family. He became very wealthy, but his 
large estate was dissipated in a famous lawsuit between 
his heirs. 

Forceful and able as Wilkinson was, another man, 
Joseph Bramah, living in London about the same time, 
had a much more direct influence on tool building. Bra- 
mah was a Yorkshire farmer's boy, born in 1748, and 
lame.^° As he could not work on the farm he learned 
the cabinet maker's trade, went to London, and, in the 
course of his work which took him into the well-to-do 
houses about town, he made his first successful inven- 
tion — the modern water-closet. He patented it in 1778 
and 1783, and it continues to this day in substantially the 

8 Smiles: "Industrial Biography," p. 119. Boston, 1864. Also, Beitrage, 
etc., 3 Band. S. 226. 

9 Smiles: "Boulton & Watt," p. 438. London, 1904. 

10 The best account of Bramah is given in Smiles' "Industrial Biog- 
raphy," pp. 228-244. Boston, 1864. 


same form. Li 1784 he patented a lock, which was an 
improvement on Barron's, invented ten years before, 
and was one of the most successful ever invented. For 
many years it had the reputation of being absolutely 
unpickable. Confident of this, Bramah placed a large 
padlock on a board in his shop window in Piccadilly and 
posted beneath it the following notice : 

' * The artist who can make an instrument that will pick 
or open this lock shall receive two hundred guineas the 
moment it is produced." 

Many tried to open it. In one attempt made in 1817, 
a clever mechanic named Russell spent a week on it and 
gave it up in despair. In 1851 Alfred C. Hobbs, an 
American, mastered it and won the money. He was 
allowed a month in which to work and the Committee of 
Referees in their report stated that he spent sixteen days, 
and an actual working time of fifty-one hours, in doing 
it. This gave Hobbs a great reputation, which he en- 
hanced by picking every other lock well known in Eng- 
land at that time, and then showing how it was done. 

This started up the liveliest kind of a controversy and 
gave everyone a chance to write to the Times. They all 
began first picking, then tearing each other's locks. 
Headlines of ''Love (Hobbs?) Laughs at Locksmiths," 
* * Equivocator " and other like terms appeared." 

It was finally recognized that any lock could be picked 
by a skillful mechanic with a knowledge of locks, if he 
were given time enough. The old Bramah lock, made, by 
the way, by Henry Maudslay himself, did not fare so 
badly. Hobbs had unmolested access to it for days with 
any tools he could bring or devise ; and though he finally 
opened it, a lock probably sixty years old which could 

11 Price : ' ' Fire and Thief -proof Depositories, and Locks and Keys. ' * 


stand such an assault for fifty hours was secure for all 
ordinary purposes." 

When Bramah began manufacturing the locks he found 
almost immediately that they called for a better quality 
of workmanship than was available, with even the best 
manual skill about him. A series of machine tools had 
to be devised if they were to be made in the quantities 
and of the quality desired. He turned first to an old 
German in Hoodie's shop who had the reputation of 
being the most ingenious workman in London ; but while 
he, with Bramah, saw the need, he could not meet it. 
One of his shopmates, however, suggested a young man 
at the "Woolwich Arsenal named Henry Maudslay, then 
only eighteen years old. 

Bramah sent for him and Maudslay soon became his 
right-hand man, and was made superintendent of the 
works at nineteen. The work of these two men in devel- 
oping the tools needed laid the foundation for the stand- 
ard metal-cutting tools of today. The most important 
improvement was the slide-rest. Nasmyth later said that 
he had seen the first one, made by Maudslay, running in 
Bramah 's shop and that '4n it were all those arrange- 
ments which are to be found in the most modern slide- 
rest of our own day" (i.e., fifty years later). Other 
parts of the metal-cutting lathe also began to take shape ; 
it has been said that parts of the lock were milled on a 
lathe with rotary cutters, and that the beginnings of the 
planer were made. How much of this work was Bramah 's 
and how much Maudslay 's it would be hard to say. 
Bramah was a fertile, clever inventor ; but Maudslay was 

12 Anyone who is interested can find an account of the affair in Price 'a 
"Fire and Thief -proof Depositories, and Locks and Keys," published in 
1856, and Mr. Hobbs has given his own personal account of it, explaining 
how the work was done, in the Trans, of the A. S. M. E., Vol. VT, pp. 248- 


the better general mechanic, had a surer judgment and 
a greater influence on subsequent tool design. 

About this time Bramah invented the hydraulic press. 
As he first built it, the ram was packed with a stuffing- 
box and gland. This gripped the ram, retarded the 
return stroke, and gave him a lot of trouble until Mauds- 
lay substituted the self-tightening cup-leather packing 
for the stuffing-box, an improvement which made the 
device a success. 

Bramah 's restless ingenuity was continually at work. 
He invented a very successful beer-pump in 1797, the 
four-way cock, a quill sharpener which was in general 
use until quills were superseded by steel pens, and he 
dabbled with the steam engine. He was a bitter oppo- 
nent of Watt and testified against him in the famous suit 
of Boulton & Watt against Hornblower. He maintained 
the superiority of the old Newcomen engines and said 
that the principle of the separate condenser was falla- 
cious, that Watt had added nothing new which was not 
worthless, and that his so-called improvements were 
* * monstrous stupidity. ' ' 

In 1802 Bramah obtained a patent for woodworking 
machinery second only in importance to that granted 
Bentham in 1791. Like Bentham, he aimed to replace 
manual labor "for producing straight, smooth, and par- 
allel surfaces on wood and other materials requiring 
truth, in a manner much more expeditious and perfect 
than can be performed by the use of axes, saws, planes, 
and other cutting instruments used by hand in the ordi- 
nary way." His tools were carried in fixed frames and 
driven by machinery. In his planing machine, one of 
which was running in the Woolwich Arsenal for fifty 
years, the cutter-head, which carried twenty-eight tools, 
was mounted on a vertical shaft and swept across the 
work in a horizontal plane. He used this same method 


in planing the metal parts for his locks, which corre- 
sponds, of course, to our modern face-milling. He pro- 
vided for cutting spherical and concave surfaces and 
used his device for making wooden bowls. 

In 1806 he devised an automatic machine which the 
Bank of England used many years in numbering their 
banknotes, eliminating error and saving the labor of 
many clerks. 

Maudslay was in his employ from 1789 to 1797. He 
was getting as superintendent 30s. ($7.50) a week. A 
growing family and *'the high cost of living" rendered 
this insufficient and he applied for more. He was 
refused so curtly that he gave up his position and started 
in for himself in a small workshop on Oxford Street in 
London. Later he took Field in as partner under the 
firm name of Maudslay & Field. 

In 1813 Bramah engaged another man who later had 
a great influence, Joseph Clement. Clement soon became 
his chief draftsman and superintendent. Salaries had 
gone up somewhat by that time and he had an agree- 
ment for five years starting on the basis of three guineas 
a week with an advance of four shillings each year. At 
Bramah 's death not long after, his sons took charge of 
the business, and soon grew jealous of Clement's influ- 
ence. By mutual consent the contract was terminated and 
he went at once to Maudslay & Field as their chief drafts- 
man. Later he, too, set up for himself and had an impor- 
tant part in the development of the screw-cutting lathe, 
the planer and standard screw threads. Whitworth was 
one of his workmen and Clement's work on taps and 
dies formed the basis of the Whitworth thread. 

Bramah died in 1814, at the age of sixty-six. He was 
a man of widely recognized influence, a keen and inde- 
pendent thinker, a good talker, and, though it might not 
appear from what has been said, a cheery and always 


welcome companion. He left a reputation for absolute 
business integrity and the quality of his workmanship 
was unrivaled until his later years, when he was equaled 
only by those he had himself trained. He gave the world 
some great and valuable devices and paved the way for 
others. His influence on modern tools can probably 
never be accurately judged, but Smiles ' tribute to him is 
as true today as when it was written, two generations 

From his shops at Pimlico came Henry Maudslay, Joseph 
Clement, and many more first-class mechanics, who carried the 
mechanical arts to still higher perfection, and gave an impulse 
to mechanical engineering the effects of which are still felt in 
every branch of industry.^' 

Bramah had an invincible dislike for sitting for his 
portrait and consequently none exists. A death-mask 
was made by Sir Francis Chantrey, who executed the 
Watt statue in Westminster Abbey, but it was unfortu- 
nately destroyed by Lady Chantrey. The complete cata- 
log of the National Portrait Gallery in London" gives 
Bramah 's name. The reference, however, directs one to 
Walker's famous engraving of the ''Eminent Men of 
Science Living in 1807-1808," which shows about fifty 
distinguished scientists and engineers grouped in the 
Library of the Royal Institution. This engraving is the 
result of four years' careful study. It was grouped by 
Sir John Gilbert, drawn by John Skill, and finished by 
William Walker and his mfe. Bramah 's figure, No. 6, 
appears in this group, but with his hack turned, the only 
one in that position. It is a singular tribute to Bramah 's 
influence among his generation of scientists that this pic- 
ture would have been considered incomplete without him. 

13 Smiles : ' ' Industrial Biography, ' ' p. 244. 

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As no portrait of him existed he was included, but with 
his face turned away. The figure was drawn in accord- 
ance with a description furnished by Bramah's grandson, 
E. H. Bramah. 

The engraving includes many other men of interest 
whose names are indicated. Some of them have already 
been considered; others, while famous as engineers, 
worked in fields other than the one we are considering. 


In the genealogical table shown in Fig. 5, Sir Samuel 
Bentham and Sir Marc I. Brunei are indicated as having 
originated the famous ''Portsmouth Block Machinery," 
which was built by Maudslay and which first gave him 
his reputation as a tool builder. "While Bentham was 
primarily a naval administrator and Brunei a civil engi- 
neer, they were among the first to grasp the principles 
of modern manufacturing and embody them successfully. 
Both were men of distinction and each had an interesting 

Samuel Bentham, Fig. 9, was a brother of Jeremy 
Bentham, the famous English publicist and writer on 
economics, and a step-brother of Charles Abbott, speaker 
of the House of Commons. He was born in 1757, went 
to the Westminster School, and later was a naval appren- 
tice in the Woolwich Arsenal. His tastes and his train- 
ing led him toward the administrative and constructive 
work of the navy, and for this he had the best education 
available at that time. He went to sea after a final 
year at the Naval College at Portsmouth; and in 1780, 
in consequence of his abilities, was sent by Earl Howe, 
then first Lord of the Admiralty, to visit the various 
ports of northern Europe. He went through the great 
ports of Holland and the Baltic, eastward to St. Peters- 
burg, and was introduced at the Russian court by the 
British ambassador. 

The Russians took to him kindly, as he was handsome. 

Figure 9. Sir Samuel Bentham 
From an Old Miniature 


tall, and distinguished in manner, inspired confidence, 
and made and held friends. He was well received by the 
Empress Catherine, and soon became a favorite of Prince 
Potemkin. He traveled over a greater part of the empire 
from the Black Sea to the Arctic and as far east as 
China, examining mining and engineering works. On 
his return to St. Petersburg he fell in love with a wealthy- 
heiress of the nobility. The parents objected; but 
though the empress, who was interested, advised an 
elopement, he gave it up as dishonorable and went away 
to Critcheff in southern Eussia as a lieutenant-colonel 
of engineers in the Russian army. While there he took 
charge of Potemkin 's grossly mismanaged factories in 
order to put them on a sound basis, an undertaking sug- 
gestive of the twentieth-century efficiency engineer. In 
this he was not wholly successful. In 1787 he built and 
equipped a flotilla of ships, and in the following year dis- 
tinguished himself in a naval battle with the Turks, in 
which John Paul Jones was also engaged. One of 
the vital elements in the fight was the use of the large 
guns built by Bentham, which fired shells for the first 
time in naval warfare. Nine Turkish ships were burned 
or sunk and 8000 men were killed or taken prisoners. 
For his part in this battle Bentham was knighted and 
made a brigadier-general. 

There were few skilled artisans in Russia and almost 
none available in the southern provinces — a Danish brass 
founder, an English watchmaker and two or three ser- 
geants who could write and draw were all he had. This 
set Bentham at work on the problem of ** transferring 
skill* * by means of machines, so that unskilled workmen 
might be made to produce the same results as skilled 

While Bramah and Maudslay were working in Lon- 


don on their metal-cutting tools for making locks, Ben- 
tham, in Russia, was thinking out substantially the same 
problem in woodworking machinery. He returned to 
England in 1791 and that year took out his first patent. 
Certain suggestions which he made to the Admiralty 
about the introduction of machinery into the dockyards 
led to his making an extended inspection of the dockyards 
throughout the kingdom, and he reported that immense 
savings were possible. The office of inspector general 
was created for him and authority given him to put his 
recommendations into effect. 

For the next eighteen years he served the British navy. 
When he took hold it was honeycombed with inefficiency 
and worse. His business-like methods, his skill as an 
engineer and naval designer, and his fearless integrity 
were elements in the preparedness of the British navy 
in the Napoleonic wars. He was an intrepid enemy of 
red tape and graft and soon made cordial enemies ; but 
he was a good fighter, with no weak spots in his armor, 
and it took many years to bring him down. In 1805 
he was sent to St. Petersburg, and kept there on various 
pretexts for two years. It was remarked by some about 
the Admiralty office, that so high was their opinion of 
his talents they would be glad to give him £6000 ($30,- 
000) a year if by that means they would never see him 
again. He returned in 1807 to find his office abolished 
and its functions transferred to a board, of which he was 
made a member at an increased salary. Here his power 
was diluted somewhat, but even this solution was too 
strong and he was retired on a pension in 1812. For the 
next fifteen years he lived in retirement in France. The 
years abroad softened the rancor of his enemies and 
from his return to England in 1827 until his death, Ben- 
tham was in frequent and friendly consultation with the 


navy officials. Bentham may well be considered as one 
of the first and greatest of ' ' efficiency experts. ' '^ 

The patent of 1791 referred to is not important, but 
it was followed by another in 1793 in which was set 
forth the whole scheme of woodworking machinery which 
had been maturing in Bentham 's mind. This has been 
characterized as one of the most remarkable patents ever 
issued by the British Patent Office. More than fifty 
years after, one of the Crown judges said of it in sum- 
ming up a case before him involving woodworking ma- 
chinery, that *'the specification of his (i.e., Bentham's) 
patent of 1793 is a perfect treatise on the subject ; indeed, 
the only one worth quoting that has to this day been 
written on the subject. ' ' 

Jeremy Bentham had revolutionized the prison system 
of England, and had introduced the system of labor in 
penitentiaries which has become an essential element 
in all modern penal systems. Woodworking was the most 
available field of work, but the greater part of the pris- 
oners were of course unskilled, and Samuel Bentham 
was called upon to devise machines to meet the need. 
The two brothers established a factory and began mak- 
ing woodworking machinery for the prisons and dock- 

The work for the dockyards soon took definite form. 
Pulley blocks formed one of the important supplies of 
the navy. A single full-rigged frigate used about 1500 
and the Admiralty were purchasing at that time about 
100,000 yearly. This formed a large business in itself 
and one in which the interchangeability that Bentham 

1 See the biography of Bentham, by William Lucas Sargant : ' ' Essays 
of a Birmingham Manufacturer," Vol, I, No. V. London, 1869. Also, 
"Memoirs of the late Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham," by Mary 
S. Bentham, in "Papers and Practical Illustrations of Public Works." 
London, 1856. 


was continually urging was especially desirable. On 
Bentham's recommendation, a government factory or- 
ganized on a manufacturing basis and utilizing machin- 
ery had been begun at Portsmouth and a few machines 
of his design already installed, when Brunei, who Y-^d 
been working independently on block machinery, was 
introduced to him. 

Marc Isambard Brunei, Fig. 10, was a Norman French- 
man, born in 1769, who was the despair of his father 
because he would not study to be a priest and would per- 
sist in drawing and in making things. As a family 
compromise he received a naval training and served as 
an officer for six years. In 1793, his ship being paid 
off, he was in Paris. His outspoken loyalty in one of 
the cafes on the very day when Louis XVI was sentenced 
to the guillotine brought down upon him the anger of 
the republicans present. He escaped in the confusion, 
spent the night in hiding, and leaving Paris early the 
next morning, made his way to Rouen. Here he hid for 
a time with M. Carpentier, the American consul, in whose 
home he met a young English girl whom he afterwards 
married. Six months later he sailed from Havre on a 
forged passport, under the nose of a frigate searching 
for suspects, and landed in New York only to find a 
French republican squadron lying in port. As he was 
personally known to many of the officers and in danger 
of being recognized, arrested and condemned as a 
deserter, he left the city at once and went to Albany in 
the vague hope of finding M. Pharoux, a friend who was 
undertaking the survey of a large tract of wild land in 
the Black River valley, east of Lake Ontario. Brunei 
found him by good chance, joined the party, and soon 
became its real leader. They showed the capacity, which 
the French have always had, of working in friendly 
relationship with the Indians, and their work was sue- 

Figure 10. Sir Marc Isambard Brunel 

From a Photograph by Walker, Ltd., of the Portrait in the N.\tional 
Gallery, London 


cessfuUy accomplished. Fifty years later there were 
still traditions among Indians in the valley of a wonderful 
white man named **Brune." 

Brunei remained in America for over five years and 
was naturalized as a citizen in 1796. During this time 
he was engaged on the Hudson-Champlain canal and 
various river improvements. He was a friend of Major 
L 'Enfant, who planned the city of Washington and he 
submitted one of the competitive designs for the original 
Capitol. He also designed and built the old Park Theater 
in New York, which was burned in 1821. He was ap- 
pointed chief engineer of New York, built a cannon 
foundry and had a part in planning the fortifications of 
the Narrows in New York harbor. 

He was gay, refined and a favorite among the emigres 
who enlivened New York society in the closing years of 
the eighteenth century. It was at Alexander Hamilton's 
dinner table that the first suggestion of the block 
machinery came to him. He had been invited to meet a 
M. Delabigarre, who had just arrived from England. 
M. Delabigarre had been describing the method of mak- 
ing ship's blocks and spoke of their high and increasing 
cost. Brunei listened with attention and then pointed 
out what he considered the defects of the method and 
suggested that the mortises might be cut by machinery, 
two or three at a time. The shaping machine he after- 
ward used was conceived while he was at Fort Mont- 
gomery in the highlands of the Hudson. Brunei left 
America for England early in 1799 and remained in 
England the rest of his life. His marriage soon after his 
arrival to Miss Kingdom, the girl whom he had met 
at Rouen, doubtless gives the reason for this change. 

Two months after reaching England, he took out a 
patent for a writing and duplicating machine and he also 
invented a machine for twisting cotton thread. Mean- 


time he was working on the drawings for a complete set 
of block machinery, and by 1801 he had made a working 
model of the mortising and boring machines. He offered 
his plans to Fox & Taylor, who held the navy contract 
for blocks. Mr. Taylor wrote in reply that his father 
had spent many years developing their existing methods 
of manufacture and they were perfectly satisfied with 
them. He added, ' ' I have no hope of anything better ever 
being discovered, and I am convinced there cannot. ' ' 

Brunei, through introductions brought from America, 
then laid his plans before Lord Spencer, of the Admir- 
alty, and Sir Samuel Bentham. Bentham, as we have 
seen, was already working on the same problem. He saw 
at once the superiority of Brunei's plans and, with the 
freedom from jealousy and self-interest which charac- 
terized his whole career, he recommended their adoption, 
with the result that Brunei was commissioned to build 
and install his machines. 

About sixty years ago there was a sharp controversy 
over the origin of this Portsmouth machinery. Partisans 
of Bentham and Brunei each claimed the entire credit 
for all of it. The fact is that some of Bentham 's 
machines were used for the roughing out, but all the 
finishing work was done on Brunei's, and there is little 
doubt that the definite plan of operations and all the 
more intricate machines were his. Bentham conceived 
the enterprise and had it well under way. His broad- 
minded and generous substitution of Brunei's plans for 
his own was quite as creditable to him as the execution 
of the whole work would have been. 

While Brunei was a clever and original designer, he 
was not a skilled mechanic. His plans called for a large 
number of refined and intricate machines which were 
wholly new and he no sooner began actual work than he 
felt the need of a mechanic capable of building them. 


Maudslay had just started in for himself and was work- 
ing in his little shop on Oxford Street, with one helper. 
M. Bacquancourt, a friend of Brunei's, passed his door 
every day and was interested in the beautiful pieces of 
workmanship he used to see from time to time in the 
shop window. At his suggestion Brunei went to Mauds- 
lay, explained to him his designs, and secured his help. 
There could hardly have been a better combination than 
these two men. Maudslay 's wonderful skill as a 
mechanic and his keen, practical intuition supplied the 
one element needed and together they executed the entire 
set of machines, forty-four in all.^ 

The machinery was divided into four classes. 

First. Sawing machines, both reciprocating and cir- 
cular, for roughing out the blocks. 

Second. Boring, mortising, shaping and ''scoring" 
machines for finishing the blocks. 

Third. Machines for turning and boring the sheaves, 
for riveting the brass liner and finish-facing the sides. 
In the larger sizes small holes were drilled on the joint 
and short wire pins riveted in to prevent slipping 
between the liner and block. 

Fourth. The iron pins on which the sheaves turned 
were hand forged in dies, turned and polished. 

In addition to these there were several machines for 
forming ''dead eyes," or solid blocks without sheaves, 
used in the fixed rigging. A detailed description of the 
entire set would be too long. A brief description of one 
or two of the machines will serve to give some idea of 
the others.^ 

2 For a description of the Portsmouth Block Machinery, see Tomlinson 'b 
"Cyclopedia of Useful Arts," Vol. I, pp. 139-146. London, 1852. Also, 
Ure 's ' ' Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines, ' ' Vol. I, pp. 398-402 ; 
Seventh Edition. London, 1875; and Eees' "Cyclopedia," article "Ma- 
chinery for Manufacturing Ship's Blocks." 


Fig. 11 is taken from an old wood-cut of the mortising 
machine.^ A model of it is shown in the background of 
the portrait of Brunei in the National Gallery, repro- 
duced opposite page 26. A pulley and flywheel are con- 
nected by a cone clutch M to a shaft D. At the front end 
of this a crank and connecting-rod drive the reciprocat- 
ing cutter head from a point a. The chuck carrying the 
block, movable forward and baclrvvard on guides, was 
operated by the feed screw R, a cam, and the ratchet 
motion shown. A system of stops and weighted levers 
on the side threw out the ratchet feed at the end of the 
cut, and the carriage was returned by hand, using the 
crank r. The crosshead had two guiding points, a double 
one below the driving point and a single one above it at 
F, and made 150 strokes per minute. The chuck could 
take either one or two blocks at a time. 

Fig. 12 shows the shaping machine.* Ten blocks were 
chucked between two large, circular frames, the same 
working points being used as in the last machine. The 
principle of establishing and adhering to working points 
seems to have been clearly recognized. A cutter g was 
moved across the face of the blocks as they revolved, its 
motion being governed by the handles I and G and a 
former i. One side of each of the ten blocks was thus 
finished at a time. The blocks were then indexed 90° by 
revolving the bevel K, which turned the wormshafts d 
and rotated all the chucks simultaneously. The blocks 
were then faced again in their new positions and the 
operation continued until the four sides were finished. 
The strong curved bars at the top were provided to pro- 
tect the workman in case one of the blocks should let 
go. As the momentum of the frame and blocks was con- 

3 Tomlmson : ' ' Cyclopedia,' ' Vol. I, p. 141. 

4 Ihid., Vol. I, p. 144. 


siderable, a spring brake was provided between the bear- 
ing and bevel-gear to bring them to rest quickly. 

Another well-designed machine *' scored" the outside 
of the blocks for the ropes or straps. Two disks with 
inserted steel cutters grooved the blocks which were 
chucked on a swinging frame. The depth and path of 
cut were governed by a steel former against which a 
roller on the cutter shaft bore. In the metal working 
machines, under the fourth group, cutters were used in 
which a short, round bar of tempered steel was held by 
a binding screw in a holder of the lathe-tool type. From 
the sketch of it shown by Holtzapffel, the whole device 
might almost be used as an advertisement for a modern 
tool-holder for high-speed steel cutters. 

Enough has been said to show that these machines 
were thoroughly modern in their conception and con- 
stituted a complete range of tools, each performing its 
part in a definite series of operations. By this machinery 
ten unskilled men did the work of 110 skilled workmen. 
When the plant was in full running order in 1808 the 
output was over 130,000 blocks per year, with a value of 
over $250,000, an output greater than that previously 
supplied by the six largest dockyards. It continued for 
many years to supply all the blocks used by the Royal 
Navy, and was in fact superseded only when wooden 
blocks themselves largely made way for iron and steel 

Brunei devised other woodworking tools, but none so 
successful as these. He started a mill at Battersea 
which burned down; his finances became involved and 
he was thrown into prison for debt. He was freed 
through a grant of $25,000 which friends secured from 
the government. His later work was in the field of civil 
engineering — the most famous work being the Thames 


tunnel. He was given the Legion of Honor in 1829, was 
knighted in 1841, and died in 1849.' 

His son. Sir Isambard K. Brunei, was also one of 
the foremost engineers of England, a bridge and ship 
builder, railway engineer and rival of Robert Stephen- 
son. At the age of twenty-seven he was chief engineer 
of the Great Western Railway, and built the steamer 
** Great Western" to run from Bristol to New York as 
an extension of that railway system. This was the first 
large iron ship, the first regular transatlantic liner, and 
the first large steamship using the screw propeller. Its 
success led to the building of the ''Great Eastern" from 
his designs. This ship was about 700 feet long and for 
nearly fifty years was the largest one built. She was a 
disastrous failure financially and after a varied career, 
which included the laying of the first transatlantic cable, 
she was finally broken up. Brunei was a strong advo- 
cate of the broad gauge and built the Great Western sys- 
tem with a 7-foot gauge, which was ultimately changed 
to standard gauge. While a number of his undertakings 
were failures financially, his chief fault seems to have 
been that he was in advance of his generation. 

6 For fuller information, see the biography of Sir Marc Isambard Brunei 
by Richard Beamish, F.R.S. London, 1862. 


We have mentioned Henry Maudslay frequently. In 
fact, it is hard to go far in any historical study of 
machine tools without doing so.^ 

Maudslay was born in Woohvich in 1771. He was the 
son of an old soldier working in the arsenal, and had but 
little schooling. At twelve he was at work in the arsenal, 
first as a ** powder monkey" filling cartridges, later in 
the carpenter shop and smithy. Young as he was, he 
soon became the leader among the workmen. He was a 
born craftsman and his skill was soon the pride of the 
whole shop. To dexterity he added an intuitive power 
of mechanical analysis and a sense of proportion pos- 
sessed by few men, and from the beginning he showed 
a genius for choosing the most direct and simple means 
for accomplishing his purpose. He was a great favorite 
among his fellows from his fine personal appearance, his 
open-heartedness and complete freedom from conceit. 

In the chapter on Bramah we have seen how Bramah, 
seeking someone to help him devise tools to manufacture 
his locks, turned first to an old German mechanic in 
Hoodie's shop. One of the hammer men in Hoodie's 
shop suggested Haudslay, apologizing for his youth, but 
adding that "nothing bet him." "When Bramah saw 
Haudslay, who was only eighteen, he was almost ashamed 
to lay his case before him. Haudslay 's suggestions, 

iPor best accounts of Maudslay, see SmUes' "Industrial Biography," 
Chap. XII, and "Autobiography of James Naamyth. " 


however, were so keen and to the point that the older 
man had to admit that the boy's head at least was old 
enough. He adopted the suggestions and offered him a 
job in his shop at Pimlico, which Maudslay gladly 
accepted. As he had served no apprenticeship, the fore- 
man had doubts of his ability to work among experienced 
hands. Without a moment's hesitation Maudslay 
pointed to a worn-out bench vice and asked whether he 
could take his rank among the other workmen if he could 
fix it as good as new before the end of the day. He was 
told to go ahead. He resteeled and trued the jaws, filed 
them up, recut and hardened them, and before the time 
set had it together, trimmer and in better shape than any 
of its neighbors. It was examined, admired and accepted 
as his diploma as a journeyman. 

His advancement was rapid, and in about a year, while 
still only nineteen, he was made general foreman and 
maintained his leadership without the slightest difficulty. 
He remained with Bramah for eight years, during which 
time the two laid the foundation for many of the modern 
machine tools, more especially the slide-rest and screw- 
cutting lathe. We have already considered Maudslay 's 
work done in connection with Bramah and little need be 
added here in regard to it. During this time Bramah 
invented the hydraulic press, but the cup-leather pack- 
ing which is so essential a part of it was suggested by 

He left the Pimlico shop because Bramah would not 
give him more than 30 shillings ($7.50) a week, and vnth. 
a single helper started a little blacksmithing and jobbing 
shop on his own account near Wells and Oxford streets 
in London. 

His first customer was an artist who gave him an order 
for an iron easel. Business prospered and he found 
plenty of work. His reputation was established, how- 


ever, in connection with the Portsmouth block machinery, 
which was described in the last chapter. The building 
of this machinery occupied about eight years, from 
1800 to 1808. The design was substantially Brunei's, but 
Mr. Nasmyth says that ''every member of it was full 
of Maudslay's presence and the mechanical perfection 
of its details, its practicability and adaptability show his 
handiwork at every turn." 

Soon after this work was undertaken, Maudslay moved 
his shop to Margaret Street, near Cavendish Square. 
During the building of the block machinery Maudslay 
had met Joshua Field, who had been engaged as a drafts- 
man in the Portsmouth dockyards under Sir Samuel 
Bentham and had worked with him in the development 
of the machinery. Field was transferred to General 
Bentham 's office at the Admiralty in 1804, and a year 
later joined Maudslay. Five years later they moved to 
Lambeth on the south side of the Thames and bought an 
old riding school on Westminster Road on what was for- 
merly a swampy marsh. Here the firm of Maudslay & 
Field continued its long and famous career. Few firms 
have influenced mechanical development more, and for 
many years it was one of the leading machine shops of 
the world. Here Maudslay did his life work as one of 
the leaders in the development not only of machine tools 
but of the steam engine, both stationary and marine. 
After his death in 1831 the business was continued by 
Mr. Field, who outlived him many years, and by Mauds- 
lay's son and grandson, both of whom were fine mechan- 
ics and men of great influence. 

It was in connection with the slide-rest and screw- 
cutting lathe that Maudslay is best known. Too much 
value cannot be placed on the slide-rest and its combina- 
tion with a lead screw, operated by change gears. It is 


used in some form in almost every machine tool and is 
one of the great inventions of history. 

Like most of the great inventions, it was the work of 
many men. In crude applications, parts of it date back 
to the Middle Ages. Leonardo da Vinci caught an ink- 
ling of it. French writers in the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries describe and illustrate devices which 
involve the parts of it. Fig. 13, reproduced from an 
illustration in the old work of Besson, first published in 
1569,^ shows a lead screw. The copy from which this 
illustration was taken is printed in Latin and is in the 
Astor library. New York. The upper shaft had three 
drums; the middle one carried the rope which was 
manipulated by the operator. Of the drums at the ends, 
the one at the left operated a lead screw and the one on 
the right, the piece being cut. The two outer weights 
held the follower up against the lead screw. The cutting 
was, of course, intermittent, as in all the earlier types 
of lathes. The idea of the lead screw occurs in other 
French works of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies. In the lathe shown in Fig. 14, from a French 
book published in 1741,^ gears instead of ropes were used 
to connect the rotation of the lead screw with that of the 
work, but if the idea of change gears was contemplated, 
it was not developed. 

The slide-rest was also known. An illustration of a 
French slide-rest, published long before Maudslay's 
time, is reproduced in Fig. 3. In Bramah^s original 
"slide-tool," the tail-stock and slide-rest were com- 

2 * ' Des Instruments Mathematiques et Mechaniques, ^c, Inventies par 
Jacques Besson." First Latin and French Edit., 1569. Plate 9. Two 
later editions were published at Lyons, one in 1578 and one in 1582. The 
same copper plates were used in the three editions. 

3 Holtzapffel: "Turning and Mechanical Manipulation," Vol. II, p. 618. 
London, 1847. 


Figure 13. French Screw-Cutting 
Lathe, Previous to 1569 

Figure 14. French Screw-Cutting Lathe, about 1740 


bined.* It was made abont 1795 by Maudslay while still 
his foreman. How much of the design was Bramah's 
and how much Maudslay 's we cannot tell. It was a light, 
flimsy affair and very different from the slide-rests 
Maudslay was making only a few years later. 

In none of these was the slide-rest combined with 
change gears and a power-driven lead screw. It was this 
combination which formed Maudslay 's great contribu- 
tion, together with improvements in proportion and in 
mechanical design which raised the device from an 
ingenious but cumbersome mechanical movement to an 
instrument of precision and power. Jesse Ramsden, a 
famous instrument maker, is said to have made a small 
lathe in 1775, which had change wheels and a sliding 
tool holder moved by a lead screw. The writer has been 
unable to find any illustration or description of it, and 
if such a lathe existed, it certainly did not exert a very 
wide influence. The combination was anticipated in 
Bentham's famous patent of 1793. In this patent Ben- 
tham says: ''When the motion is of a rotative kind, 
advancement (of the tool) may be provided by hand, yet 
regularity may be more effectually insured by the aid of 
mechanism. For this purpose one expedient is the con- 
necting, for instance, by cogged wheels, of the advancing 
motion of the piece with the rotative motion of the tool. ' '^ 
This patent contained no drawings, and the suggestion 
was not, so far as is known, embodied in any definite 

Many men were working at the problem of generat- 
ing an accurate screw thread. The use of dies was quite 
well known, but their design and workmanship was of 
the crudest order and their product of the same charac- 

■* Buchanan : * ' Practical Essays on Mill Work and Other Machinery. ' ' 
London, 1841. Volume of Plates. 

6 See the British patent records. Patent No. 1951, dated April 23, 1793. 


ter; and they were inadequate for the making of any 
large threads. Holtzapffel's book on ** Turning and 
Mechanical Manipulation," published in London, 1847, 
describes some of the attempts of the earlier mechanics 
to devise other means.* At the famous Soho works in 
Birmingham a workman by the name of Anthony Robin- 
son cut a screw 7 feet long and 6 inches in diameter with 
a square, triple thread. After the cylinder had been 
turned, paper was cut and fitted around it, removed, 
marked in ink with parallel oblique lines, then replaced 
on the cylinder and the lines were pricked through with 
a center punch. The paper was again removed and dots 
connected by fine lines with a file. The alternate spaces 
between the lines were then cut out with a chisel and 
hammer and smoothed by filing. A block of lead and tin, 
as a temporary guide nut, was then cast around the par- 
tially formed screw. Adjustable cutters were fixed upon 
this guide nut and it was used as a kind of tool-holding 
slide-rest, being rotated around the screw by hand levers, 
thereby cutting the finished thread. In other words, a 
lead screw was cut on the piece itself and the temporary 
nut was used as a tool holder to finish the work. 

One method used for some purposes was to coil two 
wires around a core in close contact with each other. 
One of these was then removed, leaving a space corre- 
sponding to the hollow of the thread. The core and 
remaining wire were then dipped in melted tin and 
soldered together. In some cases they were actually used 
in this form as the desired screw thread. In others, the 
helical wire was used to guide a sleeve nut which con- 
trolled a tool used to cut a thread located farther up on 
the length of the core. 

Another method resorted to was that of grooving a 
smooth cylinder by a sharp-edged cutter standing at the 

« Holtzapffel. Vol. II, pp. 635-655. 


required pitch angle and relying on the contact of the 
knife-edge to produce the proper traverse along the cyl- 
inder as it was rotated, thus developing the screw. This 
method is not so crude as it seems and was one of those 
used by Maudslay himself. He also used a flat steel 
tape wound about a cylindrical bar, but he found the 
inclined knife method more satisfactory. The device 
which he used was a mechanism of considerable refine- 
ment. He employed cylinders of wood, tin, brass and 
other soft metals accurately mounted to revolve between 
centers. The hardened knife was crescent-shaped, 
nearly fitting the cylinder, and fixed at the required 
angle with great precision by means of a large graduated 
wheel and tangent screw. A chasing tool carried by a 
small, adjustable slide cut the thread as the stock moved 
forward under the incisive action of the inclined knife 
edge. Hundreds of screws, both right and left, were 
made by this device, and their agreement with each other 
is said to have been remarkable. This was the way in 
which Maudslay generated his first lead screws. 

With the best of the screws so obtained Maudslay 
made the first screw-cutting lathe a few years prior to 
1800, shown in Fig. 15,^ which had two triangular bars 
for a bed, and was about three feet long. The head- 
stock carried a live spindle, which was connected with a 
lead screw by a pair of gears, and a slide-rest ran upon 
the triangular bars under control of a lead screw having 
four square threads per inch. In this machine he at 
first used different lead screws for different pitches. 
The inner end of the lower spindle in the headstock had 
a two-jawed driving device, which might be disconnected 
and into which various lead screws might be fitted. 
Later he added change gear wheels. 

t No. 1601 in South Kensington Museum, London. Cat, M, E, Collec- 
tion, Part II, p, 266, 


The great idea of using a single lead screw for various 
pitches, by means of change gears, was Maudslay's own. 
Fig. 16 shows how rapidly the idea was developed.* This 
machine, built about 1800, is distinctly modern in appear- 
ance. It has a substantial, well-designed, cast-iron bed, 
a lead screw with 30 threads to the inch, a back rest 
for steadying the work, and was fitted with 28 change 
wheels with teeth varying in number from 15 to 50, The 
intermediate wheel had a wide face and was carried on 
the swinging, adjustable arm in order to mesh with 
wheels of various diameters on the fixed centers. Sample 
screws having from 16 to 100 threads per inch are 
shown on the rack in front. Both of these lathes are 
now in the South Kensington Museum in London. With 
lathes of this design, Maudslay cut the best screws which 
had been made up to that time. One of these was 5 feet 
long, 2 inches in diameter, with 50 threads to the inch, 
and the nut fitted to it was 12 inches long, thus engaging 
600 threads. ''This screw was principally used for 
dividing scales for astronomical and other metrical pur- 
poses of the highest class. By its means divisions were 
produced with such minuteness that they could only be 
made visual by a microscope."^ 

Some idea of how far Maudslay was in advance of his 
time is shown by the fact that the wooden pole-lathes 
in Fig. 2 represent fairly the state of the art at that 
time. This form had been in use in many countries for 
centuries. One of these wooden lathes, built in 1800, the 
same year as Maudslay 's lathe. Fig. 16, is also in the 
South Kensington Museum, and was in use as late as 

8 No. 1602 in South Kensington Museum, London. Cat. M. E. Collec- 
tion, Part II, pp. 266-267. 

» * * Autobiography of James Nasmyth^ ' ' p. 140. London, 1883. 


1879. Similar lathes are said to be still used by chair 
makers in certain portions of England." 

About 1830, shortly before his death, Maudslay 
designed and constructed a lathe with a face-plate 9 feet 
in diameter operating over a pit 20 feet deep. This 
lathe had a massive bed and was used to turn flywheel 
rims. It was fitted with a boring bar and was capable of 
boring steam cylinders up to 10 feet in diameter. We 
regret that no picture of this lathe is available. It would 
be interesting as it would show in a striking way the 
development of the slide-rest and lathe in the hands of 
this great mechanic. 

Maudslay 's work on the screw thread was not confined 
to the lathe. He improved the system of taps and dies 
whereby they were made to cut the threads instead of 
squeezing them up, and he introduced the use of three 
or more cutting edges.^^ He made the first move toward 
the systematizing of thread sizes and made a series of 
taps from 6 inches in diameter, for tapping steam pistons, 
down to the smallest sizes used in watch work. The 
diameters of these taps varied by eighths and sixteenths 
of an inch, and their threads were determined by the 
respective strengths of each screw. He established for 
his own use definite standard pitches. Many copies of 
these threads found their way to other shops and influ- 
enced the construction of similar tools elsewhere. In 
fact, Holtzapffel says: ''I believe it may be fairly 
advanced, that during the period from 1800 to 1810, Mr. 
Maudslay effected nearly the entire change from the old, 
imperfect, accidental practice of screw making to the 
modern, exact, systematic mode now generally followed 
by engineers; and he pursued the subject of the screw 

10 No. 1596 in South Kensington Museum, London. Cat. M. E. Collec- 
tion, Part II, p. 264. 

11 Holtzapflfel, Vol. II, p. 646. 

Figure 15. Maudslay's Screw-Cutting Lathe 
About 1797 

Figure 16. Maudslay's Screw-Cuttixg Lathe 
About 1800 


with more or less ardour, and at an enormous expense, 
until his death. '"^ 

While we would not detract from the ingenuity of 
others who conceived the idea of the slide-rest and lead 
screw, enough has been given to show that no other 
mechanic of his day appreciated their possibilities as he 
did, and none embodied them in forms as useful. The 
fact that for many years the slide-rest was popularly 
known as ''Maudslay's go-cart" indicates that his con- 
temporaries recognized him as its originator. 

The business at Lambeth grew steadily until it 
employed several hundred men, and embraced the mak- 
ing of saw- and flour-mills, mint machinery and steam 
engines of all kinds. With his keen mechanical intui- 
tion he saw that the cumbersome wooden walking beam 
characteristic of the Newcomen and Watt engines was 
unnecessary. He therefore dispensed with it and drove 
direct from the engine crosshead to the crank, thus mak- 
ing the first direct-acting engine, which held the market 
for a long time. He built the first marine engines in 
England, and his leadership in that field was unchal- 
lenged for many years. Another of his inventions was 
the punching machine for punching boiler plates and 
iron work. His influence was felt in many directions in 
the field of machine design. He was the first to point 
out the weakness of the clean, sharp corners in castings 
which were so prized at that time, and advocated the use 
of fillets, showing that they greatly increased the 

To the end of his life he retained his personal dex- 
terity at both the anvil and the bench. One of his 
greatest delights was to go into the shop and ''have a 
go " at a piece of work which his workmen found impos- 
sible to do. One of his old workmen, years afterward, 

12 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 647. 


speaking in kindling pride of him, said : * * It was a pleas- 
ure to see him handle a tool of any kind, but he was quite 
splendid with an 18-inch file." Nasmyth confirms this, 
saying: **To be permitted to stand by and observe the 
systematic way in which Mr. Maudslay would first mark 
or line out his work, and the masterly manner in which 
he would deal with his materials, and cause them to 
assume the desired forms, was a treat beyond all expres- 
sion. Every stroke of the hammer, chisel, or file, told as 
an effective step towards the intended result. It was a 
never-to-be-forgotten lesson in workmanship, in the most 
exalted sense of the term. ... No one that I ever met 
with could go beyond Henry Maudslay himself in his 
dexterous use of the file. By a few masterly strokes he 
could plane surfaces so true that when their accuracy 
was tested by a standard plane surface of absolute truth 
they were never found defective; neither convex nor 
concave nor 'cross-winding,' — that is, twisted."" 

Whitworth is usually credited with having been the 
originator of the method of making plane surfaces three 
at a time, using them to correct each other. Nasmyth, 
however, says that Maudslay used this method and that 
surface plates so made were in daily use in his shop. 
His testimony is so clear that it is given in full: "The 
importance of having Standard Planes caused him [i.e., 
Maudslay] to have many of them placed on the benches 
beside his workmen, by means of which they might at 
once conveniently test their work. Three of each were 
made at a time so that by the mutual rubbing of each on 
each the projecting surfaces were effaced. When the 
surfaces approached very near to the true plane, the 
still projecting minute points were carefully reduced by 
hard steel scrapers, until at last the standard plane sur- 
face was secured. When placed over each other they 

13 "Autobiography of James Nasmyth," pp. 147-148, London, 1883. 


would float upon the thin stratum of air between them 
until dislodged by time and pressure. When they 
adhered closely to each other, they could only be sepa- 
rated by sliding each off each. This art of producing 
absolutely plane surfaces is, I believe, a very old mechan- 
ical 'dodge.' But, as employed by Maudslay's men, it 
greatly contributed to the improvement of the work 
turned out. It was used for the surfaces of slide valves, 
or wherever absolute true plane surfaces were essential 
to the attainment of the best results, not only in the 
machinery turned out, but in educating the taste of his 
men towards first-class workmanship."^* Whitworth's 
later success with the generation of plane surfaces seems 
clearly to be a refinement and outgrowth of Maudslay's 

Maudslay's standard of accuracy carried him beyond 
the use of ordinary calipers, and he had a bench microm- 
eter of great accuracy which he kept in his owm work- 
shop and always referred to as "The Lord Chancel- 
lor." It was about 16 inches long and had two plane 
jaws and a horizontal screw. The scale was graduated 
to inches and tenths of an inch; and the index disk on 
the screw to one hundred equal parts. Speaking from 
the standpoint of fifty years ago, Nasmyth says: '*Not 
only absolute measure could be obtained by this means, 
but also the amount of minute differences could be ascer- 
tained with a degree of exactness that went quite beyond 
all the requirements of engineering mechanism ; such, for 
instance, as the thousandth part of an inch."^® 

Maudslay's record, as left behind him in steel and iron, 
would give him a secure place in engineering history, but 
his influence as a trainer of men is quite as great. He 
loved good work for its own sake and impressed that 

i*Ihid., pp. 148-149. 
i5Z6id., p. 150. 


standard on all in his employ. Clement, Eoberts, Whit- 
worth, Nasmyth, Seaward, Muir and Lewis worked for 
him, and all showed throughout their lives, in a marked 
way, his influence upon them. Other workmen, whose 
names are not so prominent, spread into the various 
shops of England the methods and standards of Mauds- 
lay & Field (later Maudslay, Sons & Field) and made 
English tool builders the leaders of the world for fifty 

J. G. Moon, who afterwards became manager of James 
Watt & Company of Soho, the successor of Boulton & 
Watt, was apprenticed to Maudslay, Sons & Field and 
gives the following picture of the shop at the zenith of 
its prosperity. 

There were not more than perhaps a dozen lathes in use there, 
with cast-iron box beds such as we now know; but nearly all 
the lathes had been constructed by the firm itself and were made 
without a bed, the poppet or back center and the slide-rest being 
supported on a wrought-iron triangular bar, varying in size 
from, say, 3-in. to 6-in. side. This bar was supported on cast- 
iron standards, and reached from the fixed lathe head to the 
length required of the "bed." If the lathes were self-acting, 
there were two such triangular bars with the guide screw run- 
ning between them. The advantage of these lathes was great, 
for if a large chuck job was on hand, the bars could be with- 
drawn from the fixed head, supported on standards, and any- 
thing that would miss the roof or swing in a pit beneath could 
be tackled. 

There was one screwing machine or lathe which all apprentices 
in the vice loft (as the fitting shop in which the writer was 
apprenticed was called) had to work during their curriculum — 
this was a small double-bar lathe with a guide screw between. 
The fixed head was on the right of the operator, and the lathe 
was worked by hand by means of a wheel very much like a 
miniature ship's steering wheel. This wheel was about 2-ft. 
diameter, with handles round the rim, and we apprentices were 


put at this machine to develop the muscles of the right arm. The 
advantages of having the fixed head on the right (instead of 
on the left, as in an ordinary lathe) was that in cutting a right- 
hand thread the tool receded away from the start and ran off 
the end, and thus prevented a "root in," which might happen 
if, whilst pulling at the wheel, you became absorbed in the dis- 
cussion of the abilities of a music-hall "star" or other equally 
interesting topics with a fellow-apprentice. 

The writer remembers using a pair of calipers at that time, 
whose "points" were about I/2 in. wide for measuring over the 
tops of a thread. These were stamped "J. Whitworth, 1830," 
and formerly belonged to the great screw-thread reformer. 
Nearly all the bar lathes were driven by gut bands, and one can 
remember gut bands of 1-in. diameter being used. 

Most of the planing machines were made and supplied by 
Joseph Whitworth & Co., and the tool boxes were of the "Jim 
Crow" type, which used to make a half -turn round by means 
of a cord when the belt was shifted at the end of each stroke, 
thus cutting each way. The forerunner of this used to interest 
the writer — a machine in the vice loft that was variously called 
a shaping machine and a planing machine. It was driven by 
means of a disc about 3-ft. diameter, with a slot down the disc 
for varying the stroke. A connecting rod from the disc to the 
tool box completed this portion of the machine. The tool box 
was supported and kept true by two cylindrical bars or guides 
on each side, so that the whole arrangement was like the cross- 
head of an engine worked by disc and connecting rod. On the 
top of the tool box was fixed a toothed sector of a wheel, and at 
the end of each stroke this sector engaged with a rack, and in 
this way the tool box took a half-turn and was ready for cutting 
on the return stroke. The writer understands that it was from 
this machine that Whitworth developed his "Jim Crow" tool 

There was also a huge shaping machine, whose stroke was 
anything up to about 6 ft., which was simply a tool box fixed on 
the end of a large triangular bar of about 12-in. side with the 
"V" downwards. To the back of the bar was attached a rack, 


and this, gearing with a pinion, gave the motion. It was a great 
fascination to watch this ponderous bar with its tool box slowly 
coming forward out of its casing and taking immense cuts. 

Another machine tool that also used to interest the writer was 
a machine for turning the crank pins of very large solid cranks, 
the crank pins being about 18-in. to 20-in. diameter, and the 
crank shafts about 24-in. to 30-in. diameter. These immense 
crank shafts used to be set in the center of the machine, and 
the tool would travel round the crank pin until the work was 
completed, the feed being worked by means of a ratchet actuated 
by leaden weights falling to and fro as the machines slowly 

Maudslay was a large man, over 6 feet 2 inches in 
height, with a large, round head, a wide forehead, a 
good-humored face, and keen, straightforward eyes. 
His ringing laugh and cordial manner made friends 
everywhere and his kindliness and unvarying integrity 
held them. It will repay anyone who cares to do so to 
look up the account of him as given in the ''Autobiog- 
raphy of James Nasmyth," who went to Maudslay as a 
young man and worked beside him as his private assist- 
ant. In reading this affectionate account one can easily 
see why Maudslay influenced those about him so deeply 
and why he raised the standard of his craft. Like 
Nasmyth and many other great mechanics, Maudslay 
became interested in astronomy, and at the time of his 
death he was planning to build a 24-inch reflecting tele- 
scope for his own use. He patented but few inventions, 
and relied rather upon his reputation and workmanship 
to protect him. He was full of quaint maxims and 
remarks, as true today as then, the outcome of keen 
observation and wide experience. He used to say: 
** First get a clear notion of what you desire to accom- 
plish and then in all probability you will succeed in doing 

i« Junior Institution of Engineers, pp. 167-168. London, 1914. 


it. " * * Keep a sharp lookout upon your material. * * * * Get 
rid of every pound of material you can do without; put 
to yourself the question, 'What business has this to be 
there?' " ''Avoid complexities. Make everything as 
simple as possible." 

His shop was the pride of the country, and Nasmyth 
tells of the intimate visits of Faraday, Bentham, Brunei, 
Chantrey the sculptor. Barton of the Royal Mint, and 
Bryan Donkin the engineer, who used to call and chat 
with him while he worked at his bench. 

No better tribute to Maudslay and his influence can 
be given than that of Nasmyth, who said that his "useful 
life was enthusiastically devoted to the great object of 
producing perfect workmanship and machinery; to him 
we are certainly indebted for the slide-rest and indirectly 
so for the vast benefits which have resulted from the 
introduction of so powerful an agent in perfecting our 
machinery and mechanism generally. The indefatigable 
care which he took in inculcating and diffusing among his 
workmen and mechanical men generally, sound ideas of 
practical knowledge and refined views of constructions, 
has and ever will continue to identify his name with 
all that is noble in the ambition of a lover of mechani- 
cal perfection. The vast results which have sprung 
from his admirable mind, are his best monument and 
eulogium. ' "^ 

17 T. Baker: "Elements of Mechanism," p. 232. Second Edition with 
remarks by James Nasmyth. London, 1858-1859. 


In almost no case is the crediting of invention more 
diflBcult than in that of the planer. Not only was this 
tool the product of many men but no single man stands 
out clearly as Maudslay, for instance, does in the devel- 
opment of the lathe. The invention of the metal planer 
has been claimed in England on behalf of Spring of 
Aberdeen, James Fox, George Rennie, Matthew Murray, 
Joseph Clement and Richard Roberts. The planer was 
in use in the United States so early that it may also have 
been invented independently in this country, though, 
without doubt, later than in England. 

With the planer as with the lathe, the French were the 
pioneers. Plumier, a French writer on mechanical sub- 
jects, published in 1754 a description of a machine which 
had been used for some years, consisting of two parallel 
bars of wood or iron connected at their extremities. The 
article to be planed was fixed between them, and a frame 
guided between the same bars was moved lengthwise by a 
long screw and carried a tool which took a planing cut 
from the work. The machine was intended for orna- 
menting the handles of knives and was said by Plumier 
to have been an English invention. A planing machine 
invented in 1751 by Nicholas Forq, a French clock maker, 
for the purpose of planing the pump barrels used in the 
Marly water works to supply the fountains at Versailles, 
is shown in Fig. 17. These pump barrels were made up 
of wrought iron staves bound together by hoops. There 

.\rtlivi-; KDK i'LA>'l?fO ilROiV. 

NOTE. — The spots on the photograph were the yelloiv stains of age on the original plate 

Figure 17. French Planing Machine by Nicholas Forq, 1751 


were quite a number of these barrels from 10 inches to 
4 feet in diameter and from 7 feet to 10 feet long. The 
illustration, taken from Buchanan's ''Mill Work," pub- 
lished in 1841,^ is not complete, as it lacks the carriage 
carrying the planing tool which was not shown on the 
original drawing. The general construction of the 
machine however is quite clear. The built-up barrel is 
shown in place. The cutter was carried backward and 
forward between two parallel iron bars set horizontally 
through the cylinder. Either the tool or the pump barrel 
must have been given a rotative feed. Its action was 
therefore equivalent to planing on centers, and it is said 
to have done this fairly large work in a satisfactory 

Bentham described a planer in his well-known patent 
of 1793 and Bramah in his patent of 1802. Matthew 
Murray is said to have built one in 1814 to machine the 
faces of D-slide valves, which were originally invented 
by Murdock in 1786 but improved by Murray in 1802. 
Eichard Roberts built a planer in 1817 which is, without 
doubt, the earliest planer now in existence. It is in the 
South Kensington Museum in London and a picture of it 
is given in Fig. 20.^ It will be seen that the modern 
planer design was already beginning to take shape. The 
chisel and file marks on the bed and ways indicate that 
it was itself made without the use of a planer. It had 
vertical and horizontal feeds, an angular adjustment and 
separate tool-feed for the head, and a hinged clamp for 
the tool to allow it to lift on the return stroke. The table, 
which was hand-operated through a chain drive, was 52 
inches long by 11 inches wide. 

George Rennie built a planer in 1820 with a movable 

1 Buchanan: "Practical Essays on Mill Work and Other Machinery." 
London, 1841. Volume of Plates. 

2 No. 1619. Cat. M. E. Collection, Part II, p. 272. 


bed operated by a screw and furnished with a revolving 
cutting tool.^ James Fox built one in 1821, capable of 
planing work 10 feet, 6 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 
12 inches deep, to plane the bars of lace machines. 
Joseph Clement made his first planer in 1820 to plane 
the triangular bars of lathes and the sides of weaving 
looms. Some years later he built his ''great planer," a 
remarkable machine from both a mechanical and a finan- 
cial standpoint. A very full description of it was given 
by Mr. Varley in the ''Transactions of the Society of 
Arts" in London in 1832,* illustrated by a set of copper 
plates made from Clement's own drawings. Clement's 
reputation of being the most expert draftsman of his 
day is well borne out by these drawings. In this planer 
two cutting tools were used, one for the forward and 
one for the return stroke. The bed ran on rollers, 
mounted on a concrete foundation, which were said to 
have been so true that "if you put a piece of paper under 
one of the rollers it would stop all the rest." It was 
fitted with centers and was used for planing circular, 
spiral and conical work as well as flat work. It took 
in work 6 feet square and was hand-driven. The cutting 
speed must have been low, for "the power of one man 
was sufficient to keep it in motion for ordinary work, 
though two were employed to make long and full cuts 
both ways." For more than ten years it was the only 
one of its size and it ran for many years night and day 
on jobbing work, its earnings forming Clement's princi- 
pal income. Smiles says that his charge for planing 
was 18 shillings, or $4.32, per square foot, which 
amounted to about £10 per day of twelve hours, or, with 
two shifts, to about $100 a day.^ On this basis he must 

3 Buchanan, p. xlii. 

* Vol. XLIX, p. 157. 

B Smiles : ' ' Industrial Biography, ' ' p. 306, Boston, 1864. 


have macMned an average of about 11 square feet in 
twelve hours. 

By 1840 the design of the planer had become fairly 
well settled and its use general. In America, planers 
were built by Gay, Silver & Company of North Chelms- 
ford, Mass., as early as 1831. Pedrick & Ayer of Phila- 
delphia are also said to have built a planer at about the 
same time. The early American tool builders will be 
taken up in a later chapter. 

Little is known of the personalities and histories of 
some of these men, such as Spring of Aberdeen. Spring's 
name is mentioned by Smiles in his ** Industrial Biog- 
raphy"® as one of the inventors of the planer, but no 
further reference is made to him. 

James Fox was the founder of a well-known firm of 
machine-tool builders in Derby. He was originally a 
butler, but his mechanical skill turned him toward the 
design and building of lace machinery. The gentleman 
in whose employ he had served furnished him with the 
means of beginning business on his own account, and he 
soon obtained work from the great firms of Arkwright 
and Strutt, the founders of modern cotton manufacture. 
His planer, built about 1814, was used in the manufac- 
ture of this machinery. It is described by Samuel Hall, 
a former workman under Fox, as follows : "It was essen- 
tially the same in principle as the planing machine now 
in general use, although differing in detail. It had a 
self-acting ratchet motion for moving the slides of a 
compound slide-rest, and a self-acting reversing tackle, 
consisting of three bevel wheels, one a stud, one loose 
on the driving shaft, and another on a socket, with a 
pinion on the opposite end of the driving shaft running 
on the socket. The other end was the place for the 
driving pulley. A clutch-box was placed between the 

ep. 223. 


two opposite wheels, which was made to slide on a 
feather, so that by means of another shaft containing 
levers and a tumbling ball, the box on reversing was 
carried from one bevel-wheel to the opposite one. ' " This 
planer was in regular use as late as 1859. The driving 
and reversing mechanism described above is almost 
exactly that used on Clement's great planer, built a dozen 
years later. Fox is said to have also invented a screw- 
cutting machine, an automatic gear cutter and a self- 
acting lathe, but the evidence in regard to their dates is 

George Eennie was the brother of Sir John Rennie. 
They succeeded to the business founded by their father, 
the elder John Rennie, one of Watt's best-known work- 
men and next to Murdock the most important of his 
assistants, who built the Albion Flour Mills in Black 
Friars, where one of the first rotative engines was 
installed about 1788. The mill was a great success until 
it burned down a few years later. John Rennie 's con- 
nection with it established his reputation and he shortly 
after started out for himself as a millwright and founded 
the business which his two sons carried on for many 
years and which had a great influence throughout all 
England. Sir William Fairbairn w^as one of those who 
worked for George Rennie and furnishes another exam- 
ple of the cumulative influence of a succession of strong 

Matthew Murray was born at Stockton about 1765. 
He w^as apprenticed to a blacksmith and soon became an 
expert mechanic. He married before his term of appren- 
ticeship expired and as it was difficult to find sufficient 
work near Stockton, he left his wife behind him as soon 
as he was free and set out for Leeds with his bundle 

7 Ibid., p. 315. 


on his back. He obtained employment with, a John 
Marshall who had begun the manufacture of flax machin- 
ery near Adel. Murray suggested improvements which 
brought him a present of £20 and rapid promotion until 
he soon became the first mechanic in the shop. He sent 
for his wife and settled down in Leeds, remaining with 
Mr. Marshall for about twelve years. He formed a 
partnership with James Fenton and David Wood and 
started an engineering and machine-building factory at 
Leeds in 1795. Here he began the manufacture of steam 
engines and soon established a high reputation, pushing 
Boulton & Watt hard. Murdock was sent down to Leeds, 
called on Murray, was received cordially, and was shown 
freely over the entire work. On visiting the Soho works 
a short time afterward Murray was received cordially by 
Murdock, and was invited to dinner but was told that 
there was a rule against admitting anyone in the trade to 
the works. Under the circumstances Murray was indig- 
nant and declining the invitation to dinner left without 
further delay. A little later Boulton & Watt attempted 
to ''plug him up" by buying the property adjoining his 
factory, and this tract of land remained vacant for over 
50 years. He improved the D-slide valve and did much 
work toward simplifying the design of the steam engine. 
The flat surfaces required in this type of valve led to the 
building of his planer. Mr. March, a well-known tool 
manufacturer of the next generation, went to work for 
Murray in 1814. Mr. March said the planer was in use 
at that time. ''I recollect it very distinctly," he con- 
tinues, ''and even the sort of framing on which it stood. 
The machine was not patented, and like many inventions 
in those days it was kept as much a secret as possible, 
being locked up in a small room by itself, to which the 
ordinary workmen could not obtain access. The year 
in which I remember it being in use was, so far as I am 


aware, long before any planing machine of a similar kind 
had been invented. ' '® 

Like many of the owners of that time Murray lived 
directly opposite his works and he installed in his house 
a steam heating apparatus which excited much wonder 
and which must have been one of the first in use. He 
built the first locomotive which was put to successful 
commercial use. Trevithick had invented a steam road- 
engine with a single steam cylinder and a large flywheel, 
which had attracted considerable attention, but was 
wholly impracticable. It was important, however, as it 
had one of the first high-pressure engines, working above 
atmospheric pressure. In 1811 Blenkinsop of Leeds, 
taking his idea from Trevithick, had a number of loco- 
motives built to operate a railway from the Middletown 
collieries to Leeds, a distance of Si/o miles. Blenkinsop 
was not a mechanic and the work was designed and exe- 
cuted by Matthew Murray. Murray used two steam cyl- 
inders instead of one, driving onto the same shaft with 
cranks set at right angles, and therefore introduced one 
of the most important features of modern locomotive 
design. These engines were in daily use for many years 
and were inspected by George Stephenson when he began 
his development of the locomotive. Murray's design 
formed the basis from which he started. The engines, 
however, were operated by a cog-wheel driving onto a 
continuous rack laid along the road bed. It was not until 
a number of years later that Hedley and Stephenson 
established the fact that the wheel friction of smooth 
drivers would furnish adequate tractive power. The old 
Blenkinsop engines, as they were called, hauled about 
thirty coal wagons at a speed of 3i/4 miles an hour. 

Murray's most important inventions were connected 
with the flax industry and for these he obtained a gold 

8 Ihia., p. 316. 


medal from the Society of Arts. At the time they were 
developed, the flax trade was dying. Their effect was to 
establish the British linen trade on a permanent and 
secure foundation. All the machine tools used in his 
establishment were designed and built by himself and 
among these was the planer which was unquestionably 
one of the earliest built. He made similar articles for 
other firms and started a branch of engineering for which 
Leeds became famous. He was a frank, open-hearted 
man, and one who contributed greatly to the industrial 
supremacy of England. 

Joseph Clement was born in Westmoreland in 1779." 
His father was a weaver, a man of little education but 
of mental ability, a great lover of nature and something 
of a mechanic. Joseph Clement himself had only the 
merest elements of reading and writing. He started in 
life as a thatcher and slater, but picked up the rudiments 
of mechanics at the village blacksmith shop. Being 
grateful to the blacksmith, he repaid him by making for 
him a lathe which was a pretty creditable machine. On 
this he himself made flutes and fifes for sale and also a 
microscope for his father to use in his nature studies. As 
early as 1804 he began to work on screw cutting and 
made a set of die-stocks, although he had never seen any. 
He worked in several small country shops, then in 
Carlisle and in Glasgow, where he took lessons in draw- 
ing from a Peter Nicholson and became one of the most 
skillful draftsmen in England. Later he went to Aber- 
deen and was earning three guineas ($15) a week design- 
ing and fitting up power looms. By the end of 1813 he 
had saved £100. With this he went to London, meaning 
sooner or later to set up for himself. He first worked 
for an Alexander Galloway, a ward politician and trades- 

The best information on Clement comes from Smiles ' ' * Industrial Biog- 
raphy," Chap. XIII. 


man who owned a small shop. Galloway was a slovenly- 
manager and left things to run themselves. When 
Clement started in he found the tools so poor that he 
could not do good work with them, and immediately set 
to work truing them up, to the surprise of his shop- 
mates who had settled down to the slipshod standards of 
the shop. Seeing that Clement was capable of the highest 
grade work, one of his shopmates told him to go to Bra- 
mah's where such workmanship would' be appreciated. 

He saw Bramah and engaged to work for him for a 
month on trial. The result was so satisfactory that he 
signed an agreement for five years, dated April 1, 1814, 
under which he became chief draftsman and superin- 
tendent of the Pimlico works. Clement threw himself 
eagerly into the new work and took great satisfaction in 
the high quality of work which was the standard in 
Bramah 's establishment. Bramah was greatly pleased 
with him and told him, *'If I had secured your services 
five years since I would now have been a richer man by 
many thousands of pounds." Bramah died, however, 
within a year and his two sons returning from college 
took charge of the business. They soon became jealous 
of Clement's influence and by mutual consent the agree- 
ment signed with their father was terminated. Clement 
immediately went to Maudslay & Field's as chief drafts- 
man and assisted in the development of the early marine 
engines which they were building at that time. In 1817 
he started in for himself in a small shop in Newington, 
with a capital of £500 and his work there until his death 
in 1844 is of great importance. 

As already pointed out, he had been working for many 
years on the problem of screw cutting. Maudslay had 
carried this to a more refined point than any other 
mechanic. Profiting by Maudslay 's experience, Clement 
began the regular manufacture of taps and dies in 1828, 



using the thread standards developed by Mandslay as 
his basis. He introduced the tap with a small squared 
shank which would fall through the threaded hole and 
save the time of backing out. He is said to have been 
one of the first in England to employ revolving cutters, 
using them to flute his taps. While he may have used 
such cutters, he was certainly not the first to do so, as 
they were in use in France at least thirty years earlier. 
He did important work in developing the screw-cutting 
lathe, again improving upon Maudslay's work and 
increasing the accuracy of the device. He was given a 
number of gold medals for various improvements in it, 
as well as for his work on the planer. We have already 
referred to his ''great planer" and will only say here 
that of those who contributed to the early development 
of this machine none have had a greater influence. He 
executed the work on Charles Babbage's famous calcu- 
lating machine, which attracted so much attention eighty 
years ago and was probably the most refined and intri- 
cate piece of mechanism constructed up to that time. 

Clement was a rough and heavy-browed man, without 
polish, who retained until the last his strong Westmore- 
land dialect. At no time did he employ over thirty work- 
men in his factory, but they were all of the very highest 
class. Among them was Sir Joseph Whitworth, who 
continued his work on screw threads and brought about 
the ganeral use of what is now known as the Whitworth 

Richard Roberts, the last of those mentioned as 
inventors of the metal planer, was born in Wales in 1789. 
Like most of the early mechanics he had little or no 
education, and as soon as he was strong enough he began 
work as a laborer in a quarry near his home. His 
mechanical aptitude led him into odd jobs and he soon 
became known for his dexterity. He finally determined 


to become a meclianie and worked in several sliops in 
the neighborhood. He was employed for a time as pat- 
tern maker at John Wilkinson's works at Bradley, and 
is one of the few links between Wilkinson, who made the 
first modern metal-cutting tool — his boring machine — 
and the later generation of tool builders. 

He drifted about, a jack-of-all-trades — turner, mill- 
wright, pattern maker and wheelwright — to Birming- 
ham, Liverpool, Manchester and finally up to London, 
where, after being with Holtzapffel for a short time, he 
found work with Maudslay in 1814 and remained with 
him several years. His experience here was valuable as 
he came in contact with the best mechanical practice. 
The memoir of Roberts in the "Transactions of the 
Institution of Civil Engineers"" states that he worked 
on the Portsmouth block machinery, but this could 
hardly have been true, as that machinery was in opera- 
tion by 1808. He ceased roving and did so well that he 
determined to return to the North and begin business 
for himself. 

He started at Manchester in 1817 and there he spent 
the best years of his life. Few inventors have been more 
prolific or more versatile. Within a year or two he had 
made one of the first planers, already described; had 
invented the back-geared headstock, having the cone 
pulley running loose upon the main spindle," sho^vn in 
Fig. 21, and made other improvements in the screw-cut- 
ting lathe; invented the first successful gas meter and 
built gear-cutting, broaching and slotting machines and 
an improved beam-scale. Holtzapffel says: ''Probably 
no individual has originated so many useful varieties of 
drilling machines as Mr. Richard Roberts." Through- 
out his book he frequently illustrates and describes tools 

10 Vol. XXIV, p. 536. 1864. 

11 Ibid., p. 537. 

Figure 20. Roberts' Planer, Built in 1817 


1 ^ 



Figure 21. Roberts' Back-Geared Lathe 


and macliinery designed by Roberts, crediting him with 
the invention of the slotter and key-seater, which he 
thinks was an outgrowth of Brunei's mortising machine, 
Fig. 11. Eoberts' punching and shearing machinery was 
the standard for that time.^^ 

By 1825 his reputation had so increased that his firm, 
Sharp, Roberts & Company, was asked by a committee 
of the cotton manufacturers of Manchester to undertake 
the development of an automatic spinning mule. The 
spinners were the highest paid labor in Lancashire tex- 
tile industry, but they were difficult to work with and 
prone to strike on a moment's notice, closing the mills 
and throwing other workmen out of employment. The 
operators asked Roberts repeatedly to help them but he 
gave them no encouragement, as the problem was con- 
ceded to be difficult and he said he was not familiar with 
textile machinery. He had been thinking over the prob- 
lem, however, and the third time they called on him he 
said that he now thought he could construct the required 
machinery. The result was the invention in 1825 of his 
delicate and complex automatic spinning mule in which 
hundreds of spindles "run themselves" with only the 
attention of a few unskilled helpers to watch for broken 
threads and mend them. This was one of the great tex- 
tile inventions and has had an enormous influence on the 
development of the cotton industry. The next year, 
1826, he went to Miilhouse in Alsace and laid the founda- 
tion of modern French cotton manufacture. Later he 
invented and patented a number of other important 
textile machines. 

With the development of the railway his firm began the 
manufacture of locomotives. They built more than 1500, 
and established a reputation equal to that of Stephenson 

12 Holtzapffel : "Turning and Mechanical Manipulation," Vol. II, pp. 
568, 900, 920-922. London, 1847. 


& Company in Newcastle. The engines were built inter- 
changeably to templates and gauges, and Roberts' works 
were one of the first in England to grasp and use the 
modern system of interchangeable manufacture. 

In addition to all that has been mentioned, he invented 
the iron billiard table, a successful punching and shear- 
ing machine, the most powerful electro-magnet then 
made, a turret clock, a cigar-making machine and a sys- 
tem of constructing steamships and equipping them with 
twin screws having independent engines. 

With a wonderful mechanical genius, he was lacking in 
worldly wisdom and was a poor business man. He sev- 
ered his connection with Sharp, Eoberts & Company, 
became involved financially and finally died at London in 
1864 in poverty. At his death a popular subscription, 
headed by Sir "William Fairbairn and many of the nobil- 
ity, was started to provide for his only daughter as a 
memorial of the debt which England owed him. The 
memoir of him in the * ' Transactions of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers" closes mth the following words: "The 
career of Mr. Roberts was remarkable, and it should be 
carefully written by some one who could investigate 
impartially the numerous inventions and improvements 
to which claim could justly be laid for him, and who, at 
the same time, would, with equal justice, show where his 
inventions have been pirated." It is a great pity that 
this was never done. 

He was a rugged, straightforward, kindly man, of 
great inventive power. He improved nearly everything 
he touched or superseded it entirely by something better, 
and neither his name nor his work should be forgotten. 


By 1830 the use of machine tools was becoming gen- 
eral ; they were being regularly manufactured and their 
design was crystallizing. It was the period of archi- 
tectural embellishment when no tool was complete with- 
out at least a pair of Doric columns, and planers were 
furnished in the Greek or Gothic style. As the first 
machine frames were made of wood, much of the work 
probably being done by cabinet makers, it was natural 
that they should show the same influence that furniture 
did. It took several generations of mechanics to work 
out the simpler lines of the later machines. 

The application of scientific forms for gear teeth came 
at about this time with the general development of the 
machine tool. The suggestion of the use of epicyclic and 
involute curves is much older than most of us realize. 
The first idea of them is ascribed to Roemer, a Danish 
mathematician, who is said to have pointed out the 
advantages of the epicyclic curve in 1674. De la Hire, 
a Frenchman, suggested it a few years later, and went 
further, showing how the direction of motion might be 
changed by toothed wheels. On the basis of this, the 
invention of the bevel-gear has been attributed to him. 
Willis,' however, has pointed out that he missed the 
essential principle of rolling cones, as the conical lantern 
wheel which he used was placed the wrong way, its apex 
pointing away from, instead of coinciding with, the 

1 * * Principles of Mechanism, ' ' p. 49. London, 1841. 


intersection of the axes. De la Hire also investigated 
the involute and considered it equally suitable for tooth 
outlines. Euler, in 1760, and Kaestner, in 1771, 
improved the method of applying the involute, and 
Camus, a French mathematician, did much to crystallize 
the modern principles of gearing. The two who had the 
most influence were Camus and Robert Willis, a pro- 
fessor of natural philosophy in Cambridge, whose name 
still survives in his odontograph and tables. All of the 
later writers base their work on the latter 's essay on 
*'The Teeth of Wheels, '' which appeared originally in 
the second volume of the ''Transactions of the Institu- 
tion of Civil Engineers," 1837. Willis' ''Principles of 
Mechanism," published in 1841, which included the 
above, laid down the general principles of mechanical 
motion and transmission machinery. In fact, many of 
the figures used in his book are found almost unchanged 
in the text-books of today. Smeaton is said to have first 
introduced cast-iron gears in 1769 at the Carron Iron 
Works near Glasgow, and Arkwright used iron bevels 
in 1775. All of these, except the last two, were mathe- 
maticians ; and no phase of modern machinery owes more 
to pure theory than the gearing practice of today. 

Camus gave lectures on mathematics in Paris when 
he was twelve years old. At an early age he had attained 
the highest academic honors in his own and foreign 
countries, and had become examiner of engines and pro- 
fessor in the Royal Academy of Architecture in Paris. 
He published a "Course of Mathematics," in the second 
volume of which were two books, or sections, devoted 
to the consideration of the teeth of wheels, by far the 
fullest and clearest treatment of this subject then pub- 
lished. These were translated separately, the first 
English edition appearing in London in 1806, and the 


second in 1837.^ In these the theory of spur-, bevel-, 
and pin-gearing is fully developed for epicycloidal teeth. 
In the edition of 1837, there is an appendix by John Haw- 
kins, the translator, which is of unusual interest. He 
gives the result of an inquiry which he made in regard 
to the English gear practice at that time.^ As the edi- 
tion is long since out of print and to be found only in the 
larger libraries, we give his findings rather fully. His 
inquiries were addressed to the principal manufacturers 
of machinery in which gearing was used, and included, 
among others, Maudslay & Field, Rennie, Bramah, Clem- 
ent, and Sharp, Roberts & Company. To quote Hawkins : 

A painful task now presents itself, which the editor would 
gladly avoid, if he could do so without a dereliction of duty; 
namely, to declare that there is a lamentable deficiency of the 
knowledge of principles, and of correct practice, in a majority 
of those most respectable houses in forming the teeth of their 

Some of the engineers and millwrights said that they followed 
Camus, and formed their teeth from the epicycloid derived from 
the diameter of the opposite wheel. . . . 

One said, "We have no method but the rule of thumb;" 
another, "We thumb out the figure;" by both which expres- 
sions may be understood that they left their workmen to take 
their own course. 

Some set one point of a pair of compasses in the center of a 
tooth, at the primitive circle (pitch-circle), and with the other 
point describe a segment of a circle for the off side of the next 
tooth. . . . Others set the point of the compasses at different 
distances from the center of the tooth, nearer or farther off ; 
also within or without the line of centers, each according to 
some inexplicable notion received from his grandfather or picked 
up by chance. It is said inexplicable, because no tooth bounded 

2 "A Treatise on the Teeth of Wheels." Translated from the French 
of M. Camus by John Isaac Hawkins, C.E. London, 1837. 
3 /bid., p. 175. 


at the sides by segments of circles can work together without 
such friction as will cause an unnecessary wearing away. 

It is admitted that with a certain number of teeth of a cer- 
tain proportionate length as compared with the radii, there may 
be a segment of a circle drawn from some center which would 
give "very near" a true figure to the tooth; but "very near" 
ought to be expunged from the vocabulary of engineers and 
millwrights; for that "very near" will depend on the chance of 
hitting the right center and right radius, according to the diam- 
eter of the wheel, and the number of teeth; against which 
hitting, the odds are very great indeed. 

Among the Mathematical Instrument Makers, Chronometer, 
Clock and Watch Makers, the answers to the inquiries were, by 
some, "We have no rule but the eye in the formation of the 
teeth of our wheels;" by others, "We draw the tooth correctly 
on a large scale to assist the eye in judging of the figure of the 
small teeth;" by another, "In Lancashire, they make the teeth 
of watch wheels of what is called the bay leaf pattern ; they are 
formed altogether by the eye of the workman ; and they would 
stare at you for a simpleton to hear you talk about the epicycloi- 
dal curve. ' ' Again, ' ' The astronomical instrument makers hold 
the bay leaf pattern to be too pointed a form for smooth action ; 
they make the end of the tooth more rounding than the figure of 
the bay leaf. ' ' 

It is curious to observe with what accuracy the practiced eye 
will determine forms. . . . How important it is, then, that these 
Lancashire bay leaf fanciers should be furnished with pattern 
teeth of large dimensions cut accurately in metal or at least in 
cardboard; and that they should frequently study them, and 
compare their work with the patterns. These Lancashire work- 
men are called bay leaf fanciers, because they cannot be bay 
leaf copiers; since it is notorious that there are not two bay 
leaves of the same figure. 

Hkwkins then describes a method of generating cor- 
rectly curved teeth, or rather of truing them after they 
had been roughly formed, devised by Mr. Saxton of 


Philadelpliia, "who is justly celebrated for his exces- 
sively acute feeling of the nature and value of accuracy 
in mechanism ; and who is reputed not to be excelled by 
any man in Europe or America for exquisite nicety of 
workmanship." By this method the faces of the teeth 
were milled true by a cutter, the side of which lay in a 
plane through the axis of a describing circle which was 
rolled around a pitch circle clamped to the side of the 
gear being cut. It is by this general method that the 
most accurate gears and gear cutters are formed today. 
While he by no means originated the system, Hawkins 
seems first to have grasped the practical advantages of 
the involute form of teeth. Breaking away from the 
influence of Camus, the very authority he was translat- 
ing, who seems to have controlled the thought of every- 
one else, Hawkins writes the following rather remarkable 
words ;* 

Siace M. Camus has treated of no other curve than the epi- 
cycloid, it would appear that he considered it to supersede all 
others for the figure of the teeth of wheels and pinions. And 
the editor must candidly acknowledge that he entertained the 
same opinion until after the greater part of the foregoing 
sheets were printed off; but on critically examining the proper- 
ties of the involute with a view to the better explaining of its 
application to the formation of the teeth of wheels and pinions, 
the editor has discovered advantages which had before escaped 
his notice, owing, perhaps, to his prejudice in favor of the epi- 
cycloid, from having, during a long life, heard it extolled above 
all other curves ; a prejudice strengthened too by the supremacy 
given to it by Be la Hire, Doctor Robison, Sir David Brewster, 
Dr. Thomas Young, Mr. Thomas Reid, Mr. Buchannan, and 
many others, who have, indeed, described the involute as a curve 
by which equable motion might be communicated from wheel to 
wheel, but scarce any of whom have held it up as equally eligible 

*Ihid., pp. 160 et seq. 


with the epicycloid; and owing also to his perfect conviction, 
resulting from strict research, that a wheel and pinion, or two 
wheels, accurately formed according to the epicycloidal curve, 
would work with the least possible degree of friction, and with 
the greatest durability. 

But the editor had not sufficiently adverted to the case where 
one wheel or pinion drives, at the same time, two or more wheels 
or pinions of different diameters, for which purpose the epi- 
cycloid is not perfectly applicable, because the form of the tooth 
of the driving wheel cannot be generated by a circle equal to 
the radius of more than one of the driven wheels or pinions. 
In considering this case, he found that the involute satisfies all 
the conditions of perfect figure, for wheels of any sizes, to work 
smoothly in wheels of any other sizes; although, perhaps, not 
equal to the epicycloid for pinions of few leaves. 

With Joseph Clement, he experimented somewhat to 
determine the relative end-thrust of involute and 
cycloidal teeth, deciding that the advantage, if any, lay 
with the former. He details methods of laying out 
involute teeth and concludes : 

Before dismissing the involute it may be well to remark that 
what has been said respecting that curve should be considered as 
a mere sketch, there appearing to be many very interesting 
points in regard to its application in the formation of the teeth 
of wheels which require strict investigation and experiment. 

It is the editor's intention to pursue the inquiry and should 
he discover a clear theory and systematic practice in the use of 
the involute, he shall feel himself bound to give his views to the 
public in a separate treatise. He thinks he perceives a wide 
field, but is free to confess that his vision is as yet obscure. What 
he has given on the involute is more than was due from him, as 
editor of Camus, who treated only of the epicycloid, but the 
zeal of a new convert to any doctrine is not easily restrained. 

So far as the writer knows this is the first real appre- 
ciation of the value of the involute curve for tooth out- 


lines, and Hawkins should be given a credit which he 
has not received,'^ especially as he points the way, for 
the first time, to the possibility of a set of gears any one 
of which will gear correctly with any other of the set. 
It was thought at that time that there should be two 
diameters of describing circles used in each pair of gears, 
each equal to the pitch radius of the opposite wheel or 
pinion. This gave radial flanks for all teeth, but made 
the faces different for each pair. The use of a single 
size of describing circle throughout an entire set of 
cycloidal gears, whereby they could be made to gear 
together in any combination, was not known until a little 

Professor Willis seems to be the first to have pointed 
out the proper basis of this interchangeability in cycloidal 
gearing. With the clearness which characterized all 
his work he states: ''If for a set of wheels of the 
same pitch a constant describing circle be taken and 
employed to trace those portions of the teeth which pro- 
ject beyond each pitch line by rolling on the exterior 
circumference, and those which lie within it by rolling on 
its interior circumference, then any two wheels of this set 
will work correctly together. . . . The diameter of the 
describing circle must not be made greater than the 

B John Isaac Hawkins was a member of the Institution of Civil Engi- 
neers. He was the son of a watch and clock maker and was born at 
Taunton, Somersetshire, in 1772. At an early age he went to the United 
States and "entered college at Jersey, Pennsylvania, as a student of medi- 
cine, ' ' but did not follow it up. He was a fine musician and had a marked 
aptitude for mechanics. He returned to England, traveled a great deal 
on the Continent, and acquired a wide experience. He was consulted 
frequently on all kinds of engineering activities, one of them being the 
attempt, in 1808, to drive a tunnel under the Thames. For many years 
he practiced in London as a patent agent and consulting engineer. He 
went to the United States again in the prosecution of some of his inventions, 
and died in Elizabeth, N, J., in 1865. From a Memoir in the "Transac- 
tions of the Institution of Civil Engineers," Vol. XXV, p. 512. 1865. 


radius of the pitch-circle of any of the wheels. . . . 
On the contrary, when the describing circle is less in 
diameter than the radius of the pitch-circle, the root 
of the tooth spreads, and it acquires a very strong 
form. . . . The best rule appears to be that the diameter 
of the constant describing circle in a given set of wheels 
shall be made equal to the least radius of the set. ' '® This 
practice is standard for cycloidal gearing to this day. 
In his '* Principles of Mechanism," Willis did the work 
on involute gearing which Hawkins set before himself; 
and also describes **a different mode of sizing the teeth" 
which had **been adopted in Manchester," for which he 
suggests the name ''diametral pitch. "^ 

« Willis: "Principles of Mechanism," Articles 114-116. London, 1841. 
See also "Transactions of the Institution of Civil Engineers," Vol. II, 
p. 91. 

7 Diametral pitch, which is credited to John George Bodmer, was long 
known as * ' Manchester pitch. ' ' 


With the improvement in machinery came improve- 
ment in millwork and power transmission. We quote 
in the next chapter Nasmyth's description of the mill- 
work of his boyhood.^ Two of the mechanics most influ- 
ential in the change from these conditions were Sir 
William Fairbairn and his younger brother, Sir Peter 
Fairbairn. They were born in Scotland but spent their 
boyhood in poverty in the neighborhood of Newcastle, 
in the same village with George Stephenson. 

Sir William Fairbairn went to London in 1811 and 
obtained work with the Rennies. The shop, however, 
was filled with union men who set their shoulders against 
all outsiders. After struggling for a foothold for six 
weeks, he was set adrift, almost penniless, and turned 
his face northward. He obtained odd jobs in Hertford- 
shire as a millwright, and returned again to London in 
a few weeks, where he finally found work and remained 
for two years, most of the time at Mr. Penn's engine 
shop in Greenwich. In the spring of 1813 he worked his 
way through southern England and Wales to Dublin, 
where he spent the summer constructing nail-making 
machinery for a Mr. Robinson, who had determined to 
introduce the industry into Ireland. The machinery, 
however, was never set at work owing to the opposition 
of the workmen, and the trade left Ireland permanently. 

Fairbairn went from Dublin to Liverpool and pro- 

1 See page 85. 


ceeded to Manchester, the city to which Nasmyth, Rob- 
erts, Whitworth and Bodmer all gravitated. He found 
work with an Adam Parkinson, remaining with him for 
two years as a millwright, at good wages. ''In those 
days," wrote Fairbairn, ''a good millwright was a man 
of large resources ; he was generally well educated, and 
could draw out his own designs and work at the lathe; 
he had a knowledge of mill machinery, pumps, and 
cranes, could turn his hand to the bench or the forge 
with equal adroitness and facility. If hard pressed, as 
was frequently the case in country places far from towns, 
he could devise for himself expedients which enabled 
him to meet special requirements, and to complete his 
work without assistance. This was the class of men 
with whom I associated in early life, — proud of their 
calling, fertile in resources, and aware of their value in 
a country where the industrial arts were rapidly develop- 
ing. ' '^ 

In 1817 Fairbairn and James Lillie, a shopmate, 
started out as general millwrights. They hired a small 
shed for 12 shillings a week and equipped it ^vith a lathe 
of their own making, to turn shafts, and **a strong 
Irishman to drive it." Their first order of importance 
came from Mr. Adam Murray, a large cotton spinner, 
who took them over his mill and asked them whether 
they were competent to renew his main drive. They 
boldly replied that they were willing and able to execute 
the work, but were more than apprehensive when Mr. 
Murray told them he would call the next day and look 
over their workshop to satisfy himself. He came, pon- 
dered over "the nakedness of the land," ''sized up" the 
young partners and told them to go ahead. Although a 
rush job, the work was done on time and so well that 
Murray recommended the new firm to Mr. John Kennedy, 

2 "Useful Information for Engineers, Second Series," p. 212. 


the largest cotton spinner in the kingdom. For his 
firm, MacConnel & Kennedy, Fairbairn & Lillie equipped 
a large, new mill in 1818, which was an immediate suc- 
cess and at once put the struggling partners in the front 
rank of engineering millwrights. 

''They found the machinery driven by large, square 
cast-iron shafts on which huge wooden drums, some of 
them as much as four feet in diameter, revolved at the 
rate of about forty revolutions a minute; and the coup- 
lings were so badly fitted that they might be heard 
creaking and groaning a long way off. . . . Another 
serious defect lay in the construction of the shafts, and 
in the mode of fixing the couplings, which were constantly 
giving way, so that a week seldom passed without one 
or more breaks-down.'" 

Fairbairn remedied this by the introduction of 
wrought-iron shafts, driven at double or treble the speed, 
and by improving and standardizing the design of pul- 
leys, hangers and couplings. In the course of a few years 
a revolution was effected, and by 1840 the shafting speeds 
in textile mills had risen to from 300 to 350 revolutions 
per minute. 

William Fairbairn 's influence was felt in many ways. 
His treatise on ''Mills and Millwork" and numerous 
papers before the learned societies were authoritative 
for many years. He improved the design of water- 
wheels, and was one of the first to undertake iron ship- 
building as a special industry. He established a plant 
at Millwall, on the Thames, "wh^re in the course of 
some fourteen years he built upwards of a hundred and 
twenty iron ships, some of them above two thousand 
tons burden. It was, in fact, the first great iron ship- 
building yard in Britain."* To facilitate the building 

3 Smiles: "Industrial Biography," p. 389. 
*Ibid., p. 394. 


of his iron ships he invented, about 1839, improved rivet- 
ing machinery. With Robert Stephenson he built the 
Conway and Britannia Tubular Bridges. Probably no 
man in England did so much to extend the use of iron 
into new fields, and his formulas for the strength of 
boilers, tubing, shafting, etc., were standard for years. 
Like Nasmyth, William Fairbairn has left an autobiog- 
raphy which gives a full account of his career. It is 
not, however, so well written or so interesting. He died 
in 1874, at the age of eighty-five, loaded with every honor 
the nation could bestow. 

His younger brother. Sir Peter Fairbairn, of Leeds, 
was apprenticed to a millwright while William was a 
journeyman mechanic in London. A few years later he 
became foreman in a machine shop constructing cotton 
machinery, and for ten years he worked in England, 
Scotland and on the Continent, wholly on textile machin- 
ery. In 1828 he came to Leeds, in the first flush of its 
manufacturing prosperity. Mr. Marshall, who had 
helped Matthew Murray, gave him his start and encour- 
aged him to take over the Wellington Foundry, which, 
under Fairbairn 's management, was for thirty years one 
of the greatest machine shops in England. To the manu- 
facture of textile machinery he added that of general 
machinery and large tools for cutting, boring, rifling, 
planing and slotting. He had a great reputation in his 
day, but his work seems to have been more that of a 
builder of standard tools than an originator of new tools 
and methods. 

Charles Holtzapffel, another well-known engineer of 
that generation, was the son of a German mechanic who 
came to London in 1787. He received a good education, 
theoretical as well as practical, and became a skilled 
mechanician and a tool builder of wide influence. His 
principal book, ** Turning and Mechanical Manipula- 


tion/' published in 1843 in three volumes, is an admirable 
piece of work. Covering a field much wider than its 
title indicates, it is the fullest and best statement of the 
art at that time ; and scattered through it there is a large 
amount of very reliable mechanical history. 

By 1840 the number of men engaged in tool building 
was increasing rapidly, and it is impossible to consider 
many English tool builders who were well known and 
who did valuable work, such as Lewis of Manchester, 
B. Hick & Son of Bolton, and others. One noteworthy 
man, however, ought to be mentioned — John George 
Bodmer, who was neither an Englishman, nor, primarily, 
a tool builder.^ He was a Swiss who worked in Baden 
and Austria, as well as in England, and his fertile inge- 
nuity covered so many fields that a list of the subjects 
covered by his patents occupy six pages in the ' ' Transac- 
tions of the Institution of Civil Engineers. ' ' 

Bodmer was born at Zurich in 1786. After serving his 
apprenticeship he opened a small shop for millwright 
work near that city. A year or so later he formed a 
partnership with Baron d'Eichthal and with workmen 
brought from St. Etienne, France, he started a factory 
in an old convent at St. Blaise, in the Black Forest, first 
for the manufacture of textile machinery and later, in 
1806, of small arms. 

*' Instead of confining himself to the ordinary process 
of gim-making by manual labour, Mr. Bodmer invented 
and successfully applied a series of special machines 
by which the various parts — more especially those of the 
lock — were shaped and prepared for immediate use, so 
as to insure perfect uniformity and to economise labour. 
Amongst these machines there was also a planing 
machine on a small scale; and Mr. Bodmer has been 

6 For a ' ' Memoir ' ' of Bodmer see ' ' Transactions of the Institution of 
CivU Engineers," Vol. XXVIII, p. 573. London, 1868. 


heard to observe how strange it was that it should not 
have occurred to him to produce a larger machine of the 
same kind, with a view to its use for general purposes. "° 
He does not seem to have used the process of milling 
until much later. Bodmer was thus among the first to 
discern and to realize many of the possibilities of inter- 
changeable manufacture, Eli Whitney having begun the 
manufacture of firearms on the interchangeable basis 
at New Haven, Conn., about 1800, only a few years 
before. Why Bodmer 's attempt should have failed of the 
influence which Whitney's had is not quite clear. A 
possible explanation may lie in the fact that the use of 
limit gauges does not seem to have been a part of Bod- 
mer 's plan. This use was recognized by the American 
gun makers as an essential element in the interchange- 
able system almost from the start. 

Bodmer was appointed, by the Grand Duke of Baden, 
director of the iron works and military inspector with 
the rank of captain and for a number of years much of 
his energy was given to the development of small arms 
and field artillery. He invented and built a 12-pound 
breech-loading cannon in 1814, which he had tested by 
the French artillery officers. It failed to satisfy them, 
and was sent a few years later to England, where it was 
decently buried by the Board of Ordnance. 

The following year he built a flour-mill at Zurich for 
his brother. Instead of each set of stones being driven 
by a small waterwheel, all the machinery connected with 
the mill was driven by a single large wheel through mill 
gearing. The millstones were arranged in groups of four. 
**Each set could be started and stopped separately, and 
was besides furnished with a contrivance for accurately 
adjusting the distance between the top and bottom 
stones. By means of a hoist of simple construction, con- 

e Ibid., p. 576. (The italics are ours.) 


sisting in fact only of a large and broad-flanged strap- 
pulley and a rope-drum, both mounted on the same 
spindle (the latter being hinged at one end, so that it 
could be raised and lowered by means of a rope), the 
sacks of grain or flour could be made to ascend and to 
descend at pleasure, and the operatives themselves 
could pass from one floor to any other by simply tight- 
ening and releasing the rope/ The shafting of this mill 
was made of wrought iron, and the wheels, pulleys, 
hangers, pedestals, frames, &c., of cast iron, much in 
accordance with modern practice."^ This was several 
years before Fairbairn and Lillie began their improve- 
ments at Manchester. 

Bodmer went to England for the first time in 1816 
and visited all the principal machine shops, textile mills 
and iron works. He returned in 1824 and again in 1833, 
this time remaining many years. On his second trip he 
established a small factory for the manufacture of textile 
machinery at Bolton, in which was one of the first, if not 
the first, traveling crane.^ At the beginning of his 
last and long residence in England, Bodmer appointed 
Sharp, Roberts & Company makers of his improved cot- 
ton machinery, which they also undertook to recommend 
and introduce. This arrangement was not successful, and 
a few years later, in partnership with Mr. H. H. Birley, 
Bodmer started a machine shop and foundry in Man- 
chester for building machinery. 

Nearly all of the machinery for the Manchester plant 
was designed and built by Bodmer himself and it forms 
the subject of two remarkable patents, granted, one in 
1839 and the other in 1841.^° The two patents cover in 

7 Apparently the modern belt conveyor. 

8 "Memoir," p. 579. 

9 Ibid., p. 581. 

10 The first of these is described in the American Machinist of March 
13, 1902, p. 369. 


reality nearly forty distinct inventions in machinery and 
tools ' ' for cutting, planing, turning, drilling, and rolling 
metal," and '' screwing stocks, taps and dies, and cer- 
tain other tools." ''Gradually, nearly the whole of 
these tools were actually constructed and set to work. 
The small lathes, the large lathes, and the planing, drill- 
ing, and slotting machines were systematically arranged 
in rows, according to a carefully-prepared plan; the 
large lathes being provided, overhead, with small travel- 
ing cranes, fitted with pulley-blocks, for the purpose of 
enabling the workmen more economically and conven- 
iently to set the articles to be operated upon in the 
lathes, and to remove them after being finished. Small 
cranes were also erected in sufficient numbers within 
easy reach of the planing machines, &c., besides which 
several lines of rails traversed the shop from end to 
end for the easy conveyance on trucks of the parts of 
machinery to be operated upon. ' "^ There were, in addi- 
tion to these, however, ''a large radial boring machine 
and a w^heel-cutting machine capable of taking in wheels 
of 15 feet in diameter, and of splendid workmanship, 
especially in regard to the dividing wheel, and a number 
of useful break or gap-lathes, were also constructed and 
used with advantage. It is especially necessary to men- 
tion a number of small, 6-inch, screwing lathes, which, 
by means of a treadle acting upon the driving gear 
overhead, and a double slide-rest — one of the tools 
moving into cut as the other was withdrawn, — screw 
cutting could uninterruptedly proceed both in the for- 
ward and in the backward motion of the toolslide, and 
therefore a given amount of work accomplished in half 
the time which it would occupy by the use of the ordinary 

""Memoir," p. 588, 


means. Some of the slide-lathes were also arranged for 
taking simultaneously a roughing and finishing cut."" 

The latter part of Bodmer's life was spent in and near 
Vienna, working on engines and boilers, beet sugar 
machinery and ordnance; and at Zurich, where he died 
in 1864, in his seventy-ninth year. 

Bodmer does not seem to have originated any new 
types of machine tools, with the exception of the vertical 
boring-mill, which he clearly describes, terming it a 
** circular planer." It was little used in England, and 
has been considered an American development. 

It is hard now to determine how far Bodmer has influ- 
enced tool design. It was much, anyway. Speaking of 
the patent just referred to, John Richards, who has him- 
self done so much for tool design, says, "Here was the 
beginning of the practice that endured." He has 
described some of Bodmer's tools in a series of articles 
which show a standard of design greatly in advance of 
the practice of his time." Another writer says of Bod- 
mer, **He seems always to have thoroughly understood 
the problems he undertook to solve." ''One is lost in 
admiration at the versatility of the inventive genius 
which could at any one time — and that so early in the his- 
tory of machine design — evolve such excellent concep- 
tions of what was needed in so many branches of the 
mechanics' art."" 

Bodmer was elected a member of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers in 1835, and his standing among his 
contemporaries is shown by the fact that thirty-five 
pages in the "Transactions" of the Institution for 1868 
are given to his memoir. For a foreigner to have won 

12 Ibid., p. 597-598. 

13 American Machinist, Vol. XXII, pp. 352, 379, 402, 430, 457, 478, 507, 
531, 559, 586, 607, 637. 

1* Ibid., Vol. XXV, p. 369. 


respect and distinction in the fields of textile machinery, 
machine tools and steam engines in England, where all 
three originated, was surely ''carrying coals to New- 
castle." Not only did he succeed in these fields, but 
he invented the traveling crane, the chain grate for boil- 
ers, the Meyer type of cut-off valve gear, the rolling of 
locomotive tires, and introduced the system of diametral 
pitch, which was long known as the ''Manchester pitch," 
from its having originated in his plant at Manchester. 
Though Bodmer was never regularly engaged in the 
building of machine tools, his contribution to that field 
is far too great to be forgotten. 


We know more of the life of Nasmyth than of any 
of the other tool builders. Not only did Smiles give an 
account of him in ''Industrial Biography,"^ but for- 
tunately Nasmyth was induced in later life to write his 
recollections, which were published in the form of an 
autobiography, edited by Smiles.^ With the exception 
of Sir William Fairbairn, he is the only great engineer 
who has done this. His intimate knowledge of the rise 
of tool building, the distinguished part he himself had 
in it, and his keen and generous appreciation of others, 
make his record valuable. We have already quoted him 
in connection with Maudslay, and wherever possible will 
let him tell his own story. 

Unlike most of the early mechanics, James Nasmyth 
came from a family of distinction dating from the thir- 
teenth century. They lost their property in the wars of 
the Covenanters and his direct ancestors took refuge in 
Edinburgh, leaving their impress on the city as the 
arcnitects and builders of many of its most famous and 
beautiful buildings. Alexander Nasmyth, the father of 
James, was a well-known artist, the founder of the 
Scotch School of Landscape Painting, and a friend of 
Burns, Eaeburn and Sir Walter Scott. He was a land- 
scape architect and enough of an engineer to be included 

1 "Industrial Biography," Chap. XV. Boston, 1864, 

2 "James Nasmyth, Engineer, An Autobiography,'' edited by Samuel 
Smiles. London, 1883. 


in Walker's engraving of ''The Eminent Men of 
Science Living in 1807-1808," reproduced in Fig. 8. He 
invented the *' bow-string" truss in 1794, the first one of 
which was erected over a deep ravine in the island of 
St. Helena, and also the setting of rivets by pressure 
instead of hammering. This last, by the way, was the 
result of trying to do a surreptitious job on Sunday 
without outraging the fearsome Scotch ''Sawbath." 
Alexander Nasmyth was one of the six men on the first 
trip made on Dalswinton Loch, October 14, 1788, by the 
steamboat built by Symington for Patrick Miller. This 
was the second trip of a steam-propelled vessel, the first 
one being that of John Fitch on the Delaware, August 
22, 1787. It was an iron boat with double hulls and made 
about five miles an hour. It barely escaped being the 
first iron vessel, as "Wilkinson's iron boat on the Severn 
was launched less than a year before. The picture of 
this trial trip which has come do^vn to us was made by 
Alexander Nasmyth at the time.^ 

James Nasmyth was born in 1808, the tenth in a family 
of eleven children. Like all of his brothers and sisters, 
he inherited his father's artistic tastes. If he had not 
been an engineer he would probably have become dis- 
tinguished as an artist. He was ambidextrous, and to 
the end of his life his skill with his pencil was a constant 
source of pleasure and convenience. The notebook in 
which the later record of his mathematical ideas is con- 
tained, is crowded with funny little sketches, landscapes, 
little devils and whimsical figures running in and out 
among the calculations. The leaf in this book on which 
he made his first memorandum of the steam hammer is 
shown in Fig. 23. In 1817, Watt, then in his eighty-first 
year, visited Edinburgh and was entertained at the 
Earl of Buchan's, where Alexander Nasmyth met him 

3 Ihid., pp. 28-31. 

Figure 22. James Nasmyth 
from an etching by paul rajon 


at dinner. Watt delighted all with his kindly talk, and 
astonished them with the extent and profundity of his 
information. The following day Watt visited Nasmyth 
to examine his artistic and other works. James 
Nasmyth, a nine-year-old boy, returning from school, 
met him at the doorstep as he was leaving, and never 
forgot the tall, bent figure of ' ' the Great Engineer. ' ' 

Nasmyth 's father had a private workshop which was 
well equipped for those days. Nasmyth played there 
from childhood and had mastered the use of all the tools 
while still a schoolboy. ''By means of my father's excel- 
lent foot lathe," he says, *'I turned out spinning tops 
in capital style, so much so that I became quite noted 
amongst my school companions. They would give any 
price for them. The peeries were turned with perfect 
accuracy, and the steel shod, or spinning pivot, was cen- 
tered so as to correspond with the heaviest diameter at 
the top. They could spin twice as long as the bought 
peeries. When at full speed they would 'sleep,' that 
is, turn round without a particle of waving. This was 
considered high art as regarded top-spinning."* He 
established a brisk business in these, in small brass 
cannon, and especially in large cellar keys, which he 
converted into a sort of hand cannon, with a small touch- 
hole bored into the barrel and a sliding brass collar 
which allowed them to be loaded, primed, and then car- 
ried around in the pocket. 

He haunted all the shops and foundries in the neigh- 
borhood, making friends with the skilled workmen and 
absorbing the mysteries of foundry work, forging, 
hardening and tempering, and those arts which were 
handed down from man to man. Speaking of Patter- 
son's old shop, Nasmyth says: "To me it was the most 
instructive school of practical mechanics. Although I 

* Tbid., p. 89. 


was only about thirteen at the time, I used to lend a 
hand, in which hearty zeal made up for want of strength. 
I look back on these days, especially to the Saturday 
afternoons spent in the workshops of this admirably con- 
ducted iron foundry, as a most important part of my 
education as a mechanical engineer. I did not read 
about such things; for words were of little use. But I 
saw and handled, and thus all the ideas in connection 
with them became permanently rooted in my mind. . . . 

''One of these excellent men, with whom I was fre- 
quently brought into contact, was William Watson. He 
took special charge of all that related to the construc- 
tion and repairs of steam engines, waterwheels, and 
millwork generally. He was a skillful designer and 
draughtsman and an excellent pattern maker. His 
designs were drawn in a bold and distinct style, on large 
deal boards, and were passed into the hands of the 
mechanics to be translated by them into actual work."® 

After telling of various workmen, Nasmyth says: 
"One of the most original characters about the foundry, 
however, was Johnie Sjmie. He took charge of the old 
Boulton & Watt steam engine, which gave motion to 
the machinery of the works. . . . Johnie was a complete 
incarnation of technical knowledge. He was the Jack- 
of-all-trades of the establishment; and the standing 
counsel in every out-of-the-way case of managing and 
overcoming mechanical difficulties. He was the super- 
intendent of the boring machines. In those days the 
boring of a steam engine cylinder was considered high 
art in excelsis! Patterson's firm was celebrated for the 
accuracy of its boring. 

*'I owe Johnie Syme a special debt of gratitude, as 
it was he who first initiated me into that most impor- 
tant of all technical processes in practical mechanism — 

B Hid., p. 92. 


the art of hardening and tempering steel."® From 
another of his friends, Tom Smith, Nasmyth picked up 
the rudiments of practical chemistry, as it was then 

Traveling with his father from time to time, he had 
good opportunities for meeting many distinguished 
engineers and of visiting the great iron works, the most 
famous of which was the Carron Iron Works. *'The 
Carron Iron Works," he writes, ''are classic ground to 
engineers. They are associated with the memory of 
Roebuck, Watt, and Miller of Dalswinton. For there. 
Roebuck and Watt began the first working steam engine ; 
Miller applied the steam engine to the purposes of navi- 
gation, and invented the Carronade gun. The works 
existed at an early period in the history of British iron 
manufacture. Much of the machinery continued to be 
of wood. Although effective in a general way it was 
monstrously cumbrous. It gave the idea of vast power 
and capability of resistance, while it was far from being 
so in reality. It was, however, truly imposing and 
impressive in its effect upon strangers. When seen par- 
tially lit up by the glowing masses of white-hot iron, 
with only the rays of bright sunshine gleaming through 
the holes in the roof, and the dark, black, smoky vaults 
in which the cumbrous machinery was heard rumbling 
away in the distance — while the moving parts were dimly 
seen through the murky atmosphere, mixed with the 
sounds of escaping steam and rushes of water ; with the 
half-naked men darting about with masses of red-hot 
iron and ladles full of molten cast-iron — it made a 
powerful impression upon the mind.*" 

By the time he was seventeen Nasmyth had become a 
skilled model maker. While he was still attending lec- 

8 IMd., p. 93, 
7 Ibid., p. 109, 


tures in the Edinburgh School of Arts and in the Uni- 
versity, he had built up quite a brisk business in engine 
models, for which he charged £10 each. He made his 
brass castings in his own bedroom at night, arranging 
a furnace in his grate. He had a secret box of mould- 
ing sand and rammed his patterns gently so as not to 
awaken his father who slept below. In the morning the 
room would be all clean and gave no indication that it 
was serving for a foundry as well as a bedroom, and 
by some miracle he managed to complete his practical 
education without burning down the house. In 1827, 
when he was nineteen, he built a steam road carriage 
which ran about the streets of Edinburgh for many 
months, but the condition of the Scotch roads was such 
as to make a machine of this kind almost useless. When 
he went to London he broke it up, and sold the engine 
and boiler for £67. 

From inspecting the engines constructed by different 
makers, Nasmyth became impressed with the superiority 
of those turned out by the Carmichaels of Dundee. **I 
afterwards found," he writes, ''that the Carmichaels 
were among the first of the Scottish engine makers who 
gave due attention to the employment of improved 
mechanical tools, with the object of producing accurate 
work with greater ease, rapidity, and economy, than 
could possibly be effected by the hand labor of even the 
most skillful workmen. I was told that the cause of the 
excellence of the Carmichaels* work was not only in the 
ability of the heads of the firm, but in their employment 
of the best engineers ' tools. Some of their leading men 
had worked at Maudslay's machine shop in London, the 
fame of which had already reached Dundee, and Mauds- 
lay's system of employing machine tools had been 
imported into the northern steam factory.'" These 

8 Ihid., p. 123. 


reports built up an ambition, which developed into a pas- 
sion, to go to London and work in Maudslay 's shop under 
''this greatest of mechanics." 

Consequently, in the spring of 1829, he went with his 
father to London and made application to Maudslay to 
work with him as an apprentice. Maudslay told them 
in the friendliest way, but unmistakeably, that he had 
had no satisfaction from gentleman apprentices and 
that he had definitely settled that he would never employ 
one again. He showed them about his shop, however, 
and began to melt when he saw the boy's keen interest 
and intelligent appreciation of everything about him. 
Nasmyth had brought with him some of his drawings 
and one of his engine models. At the end of the visit 
he mustered courage to ask Maudslay if he would look 
at them. The next day Maudslay and his partner looked 
them over. *'I waited anxiously. Twenty long minutes 
passed. At last he entered the room, and from a lively 
expression in his countenance I observed in a moment 
that the great object of my long cherished ambition had 
been attained! He expressed, in good round terms, his 
satisfaction at my practical ability as a workman engi- 
neer and mechanical draughtsman. Then, opening the 
door which led from his library into his beautiful private 
workshop, he said, 'This is where I wish you to work, 
beside me, as my assistant workman. From what I have 
seen, there is no need of an apprenticeship in your case. " 

*'Mr. Maudslay seemed at once to take me into his 
confidence. He treated me in the most kindly manner — 
not as a workman or an apprentice, but as a friend. I 
was an anxious listener to everything that he said ; and 
it gave him pleasure to observe that I understood and 
valued his conversation. The greatest treat of all was 
in store for me. He showed me his exquisite collection 

9 Ibid., p. 129. 


of taps and dies and screw-tackle, which he had made 
with the utmost care for his own service. They rested 
in a succession of drawers near to the bench where he 
worked. . . . 

''He proceeded to dilate upon the importance of the 
uniformity of screws. Some may call it an improve- 
ment, but it might almost be called a revolution in 
mechanical engineering which Mr. Maudslay introduced. 
Before his time no system had been followed in propor- 
tioning the number of threads of screws to their diame- 
ter. Every bolt and nut was thus a specialty in itself, 
and neither possessed nor admitted of any community 
with its neighbors. To such an extent had this practice 
been carried that all bolts and their corresponding nuts 
had to be specially marked as belonging to each 
other. . . . 

"None but those who lived in the comparatively early 
days of machine manufacture can form an adequate idea 
of the annoyance, delay, and cost of this utter want of 
system, or can appreciate the vast services rendered to 
mechanical engineering by Mr. Maudslay, who was the 
first to introduce the practical measures necessary for 
its remedy."" 

There was no place in all England where Nasmyth 
could have learned more. He was in close personal con- 
tact with one of the best mechanics in the world. He 
had Maudslay 's warmest personal interest and heard 
all the discussions of the engineers and famous men who 
used to come to the workshop. ''Among Mr. Mauds- 
lay's most frequent visitors was Gen. Sir Samuel Ben- 
tham, Mr. Barton, director of the Royal Mint, Mr. Bryan 
Donkin, Mr. Faraday, and Mr. Chantrey, the sculptor. 
As Mr. Maudslay wished me to be at hand to give 
him any necessary assistance, I had the opportunity of 

iolbid., pp. 131-132. 


listening to the conversation between him and these dis- 
tinguished visitors. Sir Samuel Bentham called very 
often. He had been associated with Maudslay during 
the contrivance and construction of the block machinery. 
He was brother of the celebrated Jeremy Bentham, and 
he applied the same clear common sense to mechanical 
subjects which the other had done to legal, social and 
political questions. 

"It was in the highest degree interesting and instruc- 
tive to hear these two great pioneers in the history and 
application of mechanics discussing the events connected 
with the block-making machinery. In fact, Maudslay 's 
connection with the subject had led to the development 
of most of our modern engineering tools. They may 
since have been somewhat altered in arrangement, but 
not in principle. Scarcely a week passed without a visit 
from the General. He sat in the beautiful workshop, 
where he always seemed so happy. It was a great treat 
to hear him and Maudslay fight their battles over again, 
in recounting the difficulties, both official and mechanical, 
over which they had so gloriously triumphed."" 

While with Maudslay, Nasmyth designed and built an 
index milling machine for finishing the sides of hexagon 
nuts. After Maudslay 's death in 1831, he remained a 
few months with Mr. Field to finish some work in hand, 
and then left to start in business for himself. Nasmyth 
speak'^ in the kindliest terms of Mr. Field, and doubtless 
would have had more to say about him if his relationship 
with Maudslay had not been so close. 

Joshua Field was a man to be appreciated. He was 
a draftsman at the Portsmouth dockyard when the 
block machinery was being built, and showed so clear a 
grasp of the work in hand that Bentham had him trans- 
ferred to the Admiralty at Whitehall. In 1804 he left 

11 Hid., pp. 151-152. 


the service and went to Maudslay's, when he was at 
Margaret Street and employed about eighty men. He 
rose steadily, was taken into partnership in 1822, at the 
same time as Maudslay's eldest son, and was the senior 
partner after Maudslay's death when the firm was at 
the height of its long prosperity. He was one of those 
consulted in the laying of the Atlantic cable and in the 
designing of machinery for doing it. 

"Mr. Field was one of the founders of the Institution 
of Civil Engineers, the origin of which was very humble. 
About the year 1816, Mr. Henry Robinson Palmer, who 
was then a pupil of the late Mr. Bryan Donkin, sug- 
gested to Mr. Field the idea of forming a society of 
young engineers, for their mutual improvement in 
mechanical and engineering science; and the earliest 
members were Mr. Henry Robinson Palmer, Mr. William 
Nicholson Maudslay, and Mr. Joshua Field. To these 
three were shortly added Mr. James Jones, Mr. Charles 
CoUinge, and Mr. James Ashwell. They met occasionally 
in a room hired for the purpose, and to them were soon 
attracted others having the same objects in view. Mr. 
Field was the first chairman of the Institution, being 
elected to that post on the sixth of January, 1818. Sub- 
sequently he became, in 1837, a vice-president, an office 
he filled until he was elected president in 1848, and in 
1849, and he continued to the last to be an active member 
and warm supporter of the Institution. ' '^^ Mr. Field did 
everything in his power to give Nasmyth a start, allowing 
him to make the castings for some machine tools which 
he proposed to finish later for use in his own plant. 

Nasmyth returned to Edinburgh and took temporary 
quarters in a little outbuilding 16 feet by 24 feet, within 
a few minutes' walk of his father's home. He hired one 

12 Memoir, in ' * Transactions of the Institution of Civil Engineers, ' ' VoL 
XXIII, p. 491. 1863. 


mechanic, Archie Torry, who remained with him the rest 
of his life and became one of his principal foremen. His 
power plant consisted of one husky laborer who turned 
a crank. Together they finished up the castings brought 
from Maudslay & Field 'Sj making first a lathe, then a 
planer 20 inches by 36 inches, and with these a few bor- 
ing and drilling machines. He carried the expense of 
this by doing some work for an enthusiastic inventor 
of a wonderful rotary steam engine. Nasmyth honorably 
informed the inventor that his machine would not work, 
but as the inventor was bent on spending his money, 
Nasmyth executed the work for him, and the proceeds 
enabled him to build his machinery. 

In a few months he was ready to begin. He went to 
Liverpool and Manchester looking for a location, and 
soon made many powerful friends in both cities. In 
1831 he rented a single floor in Manchester, 27 feet by 
130 feet, with power, and ten days later Archie followed 
with the tools. It was a particularly fortunate time and 
place for starting such an enterprise. The success of the 
Liverpool & Manchester Eailway, just opened, created 
a great demand for locomotives and for machine tools. 
Orders came in fast, and the planer especially was busy 
all the time. If its profits were anything like those of 
Clement 's planer, it must have been a very heavy earner. 
As the business grew, Nasmyth added more tools, always 
making them himself and steadily improving their 
design and construction. 

He soon outgrew his quarters; and in 1836 he secured 
land at Patricroft, a mile or so outside of the city, 
admirably located between the new railway and the 
Bridgewater Canal, and built a new plant which he called 
the Bridgewater Foundry. In the new foundry he used 
the first worm-geared tilting pouring-ladle. As it elimi- 
nated a common and very dangerous source of accidents, 


lie refrained from patenting it and in a short time its 
use was universaL He formed a partnership with Hol- 
brook Gaskell, who took the business end of the enter- 
prise, and the firm of Nasmyth & Gaskell had a very- 
prosperous career until, sixteen years later, Mr. Gaskell 
was forced to retire on account of ill health. 

Nasmyth built machine tools of all kinds. In 1836 he 
invented the shaper which was long known as 
** Nasmyth 's Steel Arm." 

Descriptions and illustrations of some of Nasmyth 's 
tools may be found at the end of his autobiography," 
in Buchanan's ''Mill Work,"" and in the American 
Machinist ^^ He patented but few of his inventions, 
relying for protection mainly upon the reputation which 
he soon established. ''In mechanical structures and 
contrivances," he says, "I have always endeavored to 
attain the desired purpose by the emplojTnent of the 
fewest parts, casting aside every detail not absolutely 
necessary, and guarding carefully against the intrusion 
of mere traditional forms and arrangements. The latter 
are apt to insinuate themselves, and to interfere with 
that simplicity and directness of action w^hich is in all 
cases so desirable a quality in mechanical structures. 
Plain common sense should be apparent in the general 
design, as in the form and arrangement of the details ; 
and a character of severe utility pervade the whole, 
accompanied with as much attention to gracefulness of 
form as is consistent with the nature and purpose of 
the structure. "^^ This was written in later life. While 
his later work was in thorough conformity with these 
principles, it was some time before he freed himself 

13 p. 400 et seq. 

14 Volume of Platea. 

IB Oct. 14, 1909, p. 654. 
16 Autobiography, p. 439. 


from the tradition of Greek style in macliine frames. 
He was one of those, however, who led the way into the 
more correct practice indicated above, though he was 
probably not so influential in this direction as Whitworth. 
His greatest invention unquestionably was that of the 
steam hammer, which came about in an interesting way. 
He had built a number of locomotives for the Great 
Western Eailway. This railway operated a line of 
steamers from Bristol to New York and was planning 
a ship larger and faster than any then built, to be called 
*^The Great Britain." It was to be a side-wheeler and 
the plans called for a large and heavy paddle shaft, 30 
inches in diameter. Mr. Humphries, its designer, wrote 
to Nasmyth asking for help, saying so large a shaft could 
not be forged with any of the hammers then in use. 
Nasmyth saw at once the limitations of the prevailing 
tilt hammer — which was simply a smith's hand hammer, 
enlarged, with a range so small that it ** gagged" on 
large work, — and that the design of large hammers must 
be approached in an entirely new way. "The obvious 
remedy was to contrive some method by which a pon- 
derous block of iron should be lifted to a sufficient height 
above the object on which it was desired to strike a blow, 
and then to let the block fall down upon the forging, guid- 
ing it in its descent by such simple means as should give 
the required precision in the percussive action of the 
falling mass. Following up this idea," he writes, ''I 
got out my * Scheme Book,' on the pages of which I gen- 
erally thought out, with the aid of pen and pencil, such 
mechanical adaptations as I had conceived in my mind, 
and was thereby enabled to render them visible. I then 
rapidly sketched out my steam hammer, having it all 
clearly before me in mind's eye. In little more than 
half an hour after receiving Mr. Humphries 's letter 
narrating his unlooked-for difficulty, I had the whole con- 


trivance, in all its executant details, before me in a page 
of my Scheme Book, a reduced photograph copy of which 
I append to this description. (See Fig. 23.) The date of 
this first drawing was the twenty-fourth of November, 
1839. . . ."" 

**Rude and rapidly sketched out as it was, this, my 
first delineation of the steam hammer, will be found to 
comprise all the essential elements of the invention.^^ 
Every detail of the drawing retains to this day the form 
and arrangement which I gave to it forty-three years 
ago. I believed that the steam hammer would prove 
practically successful ; and I looked forward to its general 
employment in the forging of heavy masses of iron. It 
is no small gratification to me now, when I look over my 
rude and hasty first sketch, to find that I hit the mark 

17 Ihid., p. 240. 

18 Compare Nasmyth 's sketch, Fig. 23, with Fig. 24, which was taken 
from the model of his first hammer now in the South Kensington Museum 
(Exhibit No. 1571). The description of it in the catalog is as follows: 

"It consists of a base plate with a large central opening through which 
projects the top of the anvil, so that a blow on the anvil is not transmitted 
to the base plate. On the plate are secured two standards which form 
guides for the hammer-head or tup, and also support an overhead cylinder, 
the piston of which is connected with the tup by a piston rod passing 
through the bottom of the cylinder. Steam is admitted to this cylinder 
by a stop valve in the form of a slide, and then by a slide valve on the 
front of the cylinder, which by a hand lever can be moved so as to let 
steam in below the piston and so raise the heavy tup. When it is lifted 
to a height proportionate to the energy of the blow required, the steam 
is by the slide valve permitted to escape and the hammer falls upon the 
forging placed on the anvil. The cylinder is therefore only single-acting, 
but the top is closed, and a ring of holes communicating with the exhaust 
pipe is provided at a little distance down inside. In this way an air cushion 
is formed which helps to start the piston downwards when a long stroke 
is being taken, and also the steam below the piston is permitted to escape 
when the tup has been lifted as high as it can safely go. Soon after its 
invention the steam hammer was greatly increased in power by accelerating 
the fall of the tup by admitting steam above the piston in the downstroke 
and so changing it into the usual double-acting steam hammer." Cat. 
Machinery Collection, Part II, p. 255, 
























































































so exactly, not only in the general structure but in the 
details; and that the invention as I then conceived it 
and put it into shape, still retains its form and arrange- 
ments intact in the thousands of steam hammers that are 
now doing good service in the mechanical arts throughout 
the civilized world. ' "" 

The shaft, however, was never built. Screw propul- 
sion was just coming into use; the design of the vessel 
was changed, and the whole scheme lapsed. A year or 
so later, M. Schneider, the French iron master of 
Creuzot, and his engineer, M. Bourdon, visited Bridge- 
water while Nasmyth happened to be away. Mr. Gaskell, 
after taking them about the plant, showed them the 
Scheme Book and pointed out the sketch of the hammer, 
telling them of the purpose for which it was intended. 
They were impressed with it and took careful notes and 
sketches of its details. Nasmyth was informed of their 
visit upon his return, but knew nothing of their having 
taken sketches of the hammer. 

In 1842 Nasmyth visited France, and was cordially 
received at Creuzot and shown about the works. ''On 
entering," he writes, "one of the things that particu- 
larly struck me was the excellence of a large wrought- 
iron marine engine single crank, forged with a remark- 
able degree of exactness in its general form. I observed 
also that the large eye of the crank had been punched 
and drifted with extraordinary smoothness and truth. 
I inquired of M. Bourdon 'how that crank had been 
forged?' His immediate reply was, 'It was forged hy 
your steam hammer!' . . . He told me . . . that he had 
taken careful notes and sketches, and that among the 
first things he did after his return to Creuzot was to 
put in hand the necessary work for the erection of a 
steam hammer. . . . M. Bourdon conducted me to the 

19 Autobiography, p. 242. 


forge department of the works, that I might, as he said, 
'see my own child'; and there it was, in truth — a thump- 
ing child of my brain. ' '^^ Fortunately it was still time to 
save his patent rights. He moved rapidly and in June, 
1842, two months after his visit to Creuzot, a patent was 
obtained.^\ The steam hammer soon found its way into 
all the large shops of the world and greatly increased 
Nasmyth's already comfortable fortune. Nasmyth trans- 
ferred his United States patent to S. V. Merrick of 
Philadelphia, who introduced the hammer into the 
American iron works. 

Besides work on the hammer and machine tools, 
Nasmyth made a number of inventions of interest. 
While still with Maudslay he invented the flexible shaft 
made of a coiled spring, and speaks with amusement at 
his finding the same idea in a dental engine many years 
later credited as an American invention. He invented 
the ball-and-socket joint for shafting hangers and also 
the single wedge gate valve. His steam piledriver, an 
adaptation of the steam hammer, was the invention in 
which he seems to have taken the most satisfaction. He 
was working out a method of puddling iron with a blast 
of steam when he was eclipsed by Bessemer 's brilliant 
invention, in 1855, of the air blast. Nasmyth was a mem- 
ber of the Small Arms Committee which remodeled the 
Small Arms Factory at Enfield. His connection with this 
will be taken up in the consideration of the rise of inter- 
changeable manufacture. 

20 Ihid., pp. 246-247. The self-acting valve motion for the steam hammer 
was invented by Mr. Wilson, when Nasmyth was absent on business. Wilson 
was manager at Patricroft and later became a partner. It was much used 
for a time but with the advent of balanced piston-valves the hand-operated 
gear supplanted it. Nasmyth's invention of the hammer was denied by 
M. Schneider in 1871. For fuller discussion of the history of this hammer 
see London Engineer, May 16, 1890, and a pamphlet by T. S. Kowlandson, 
entitled "History of the Steam Hammer." Manchester, 1866. 

21 No. 9382, June 9, 1842. 


Nasmyth retired from business in 1856, bought an 
estate in Kent, and spent the remainder of his life in 
travel and in his studies in astronomy. He was deeply 
interested in this study from boyhood. Before he was 
twenty he had built an excellent 6-inch reflecting tele- 
scope, and it was he who aroused Maudslay's interest in 
the subject. He had a 10-inch telescope at Patricroft 
and a large one at Hammersfield. He began his study of 
the moon in 1842, and received a medal for his work at 
the Exhibition of 1851. His book, ''The Moon, Consid- 
ered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, ' ' published in 
1874, in conjunction with James Carpenter, the result 
of his thirty-two years of work, is authoritative today. 

Nasmyth died in 1890 at the age of eighty-two. He was 
much more than a splendid mechanic. His personal 
charm and quality of mind can best be appreciated by 
reading his own story. This chapter will have served 
its purpose if it induces the reader to read the autobiog- 
raphy from which we have quoted so freely. 


The work of tlie earlier generation of Englisli tool 
builders may be said to have culminated in that of Sir 
Joseph Whitworth. For a man of his commanding influ- 
ence, the information in regard to his life is singularly- 
meager. He left no account of himself as Nasmyth and 
William Fairbairn did ; no biography of him was written 
by his contemporaries, and the various memoirs which 
appeared at the time of his death are short and incom- 

He was born at Stockport in 1803. His father was a 
minister and schoolmaster. At fourteen he was placed 
in the office of his uncle, a cotton spinner in Derbyshire, 
to learn the business. But commercial work did not 
appeal to him. He slighted the office as much as pos- 
sible and delved into every nook and corner of the manu- 
facturing and mechanical departments of the establish- 
ment. In a few years he had mastered the construction 
of every machine in the place and acquired the deep- 
seated conviction that all the machinery about him was 
imperfect. He ran away to Manchester to escape a 
routine business life, and found work with Creighton & 
Company, as a working mechanic. He married in 1825, 
and shortly afterward went to work with Maudslay & 
Field in London. Maudslay soon placed him next to 
John Hampson, a Yorkshireman, who was his best 
workman. While there, Whitworth developed his 
method of making accurate plane surfaces by hand 


scraping them, three at a time. On leaving Mandslay, 
Whitworth worked for Holtzapffel, and later for Clem- 
ent. He returned to Manchester in 1833, rented a room 
with power, and hung out a sign, ''Joseph Whitworth, 
Tool Maker from London. ' ' Here he began his improve- 
ments in machine tools — the lathe, planer, drilling, slot- 
ting and shaping machines. He improved Nasmyth's 
shaper, adding the quick-return motion, which has been 
known ever since as the Whitworth quick-return motion. 
His tools became the standard of the world, and in the 
London Exhibition of 1851 stood in a class by themselves. 

Their preeminence lay not so much in novelty of 
design as in the standard of accuracy and quality of 
workmanship which they embodied. With unerring 
judgment, Whitworth had turned his attention first, to 
use his own words, ''to the vast importance of attending 
to the two great elements in constructive mechanics', — 
namely, a true plane and power of measurement. The 
latter cannot be attained without the former, which is, 
therefore, of primary importance. . . . All excellence 
in workmanship depends upon it."^ 

The first step, the production of true plane surfaces, 
made while he was at Maudslay's, was, we are told, 
a self-imposed task. The method of producing these, 
three at a time, is generally credited to Whitworth. 
We have already quoted Nasmyth's statement that 
the method was in use at Maudslay's and that it 
was "a very old mechanical dodge." While this is 
probably true, Whitworth contributed something to the 
method, which very greatly increased the accuracy of 
the product. The writer is inclined to believe that that 
element was the substitution of hand scraping for grind- 
ing in the final finishing operations. Whitworth 's paper, 

1 Presidential Address. Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1856, p. 


read before the British. Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science at Glasgow in 1840, indicates this, 
although it does not say so directly. In this paper he 
specifically points out the reason why planes should not 
be finished by grinding them together with abrasive 
powder in between ; namely, that the action of the grind- 
ing powder was under no control, that there was no 
means of securing its equal diffusion or modifying its 
application and localizing its action to the particular 
spot which needed it. Holtzapffel confirms this view, 
saying, in 1847: *'The entire process of grinding, 
although apparently good, is so fraught with uncer- 
tainty, that accurate mechanicians have long agreed that 
the less grinding that is employed on rectilinear works 
the better, and Mr. Whitworth has recently shown in the 
most satisfactory manner,^ that in such works grinding 
is entirely unnecessary, and may, with the greatest advan- 
tage be dispensed with, as the further prosecution of the 
scraping process is quite sufficient to lead to the limit of 
attainable accuracy. . . . The author's previous experi- 
ence had so fully prepared him for admission of the 
soundness of these views, that in his OAvn workshop he 
immediately adopted the suggestion of accomplishing all 
accurate rectilinear works by the continuance of scrap- 
ing, to the entire exclusion of grinding.'" 

When Whitworth determined to make a better set of 
planes than any in use at the Maudslay shop, we are 
told that he was laughed at by Hampson and his other 
fellow workmen for undertaking an impossible job. He 
not only succeeded, but the truth of the planes he pro- 
duced aroused the admiration and wonder of all who saw 
them. Nasmyth distinctly mentions scraping, but it 
should be remembered that he worked at Maudslay 's 

2 Referring to the paper before the British Association, 1840. 

3 ' ' Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, ' ' Vol. II, p, 872. 


four or five years after Whitworth went there, and 
scraping may have been introduced into their older meth- 
ods of making triple surface-plates by Whitworth, and 
have accounted for the wonderful accuracy of which 
Nasmyth speaks. 

Having realized what he considered the first ele- 
ment in good workmanship, Whitworth began on the 
second, — improved methods in measurement. He intro- 
duced the system of ^'end measurements," relying ordi- 
narily on the sense of touch rather than eyesight; and, 
for extreme accuracy, on the falling of a tumbler held 
by friction between two parallel planes. At the presen- 
tation of the address before the Institution of Mechani- 
cal Engineers, in 1856, he exhibited a measuring 
machine built on this principle which detected differ- 
ences of length as small as one-millionth of an inch. The 
address was largely devoted to the advantages of end 
measurement. Eeferring to the machine before him, he 
said: *'We have in this mode of measurement all the 
accuracy we can desire; and we find in practice in the 
workshop that it is easier to work to the ten-thousandth 
of an inch from standards of end measurements, than to 
one-hundredth of an inch from lines on a two-foot rule. 
In all cases of fitting, end measure of length should be 
used, instead of lines." This principle has become 
almost universal for commercial work, although for 
extremely accurate work upon final standards line meas- 
urements, aided by the microscope, are used. 

It was Whitworth who brought about the standardiza- 
tion of screw thread practice in England. He had come 
into contact with the best thread practice at Maudslay's 
and at Clement's, but in the other shops throughout the 
country there was chaos, so far as any recognized stand- 
ard was concerned. Using their work as a basis, and 
collecting and comparing all the screws obtainable, Whit- 


worth arrived at a pitch for all sizes and a thread con- 
tour, which he proposed in a paper before the Institution 
of Civil Engineers in 1841.* It was received with favor, 
and by 1860 the "Whitworth thread" had been generally 
adopted throughout the country. 

In 1853 Whitworth visited the United States, and in 
conjunction with George Wallis of the South Kensing- 
ton Museum, reported on the enterprises and manufac- 

* The Minutes of the Institution, Vol. I, give only an abstract of this 
paper. A recent writer, however, in the American Machinist, Vol. XLIII, 
p. 1178, quotes Whitworth as follows: 

It is impossible to deduce a precise rule for the threads of screws from 
mechanical principles or from any number of experiments. On the other 
hand, the nature of the case is such that mere approximation would be 
unimportant, absolute identity of thread for a given diameter being 

There are three essential characters belonging to the screw thread, 
namely, pitch, depth and form. Each of these may be indefinitely modi- 
fied independently of the others, and any change will more or less affect the 
several conditions of power, strength and durability. The selection of the 
thread is also affected by the mutual relation subsisting between the three 
constituent characters of pitch, depth and form. Each of these may be 
separately modified; but practically no one character can be determined 
irrespective of the others. 

We find instead of that uniformity which is so desirable, a diversity 
so great as almost to discourage any hope of its removal. The only mode 
in which this could be attempted with any probability of success would 
be by a sort of compromise, all parties consenting to adopt a medium for 
the sake of common advantage. The average pitch and depth of the 
various threads used by the leading engineers would thus become the 
common standard, which would not only have the advantage of conciliating 
general concurrence, but would, in all probability, be nearer the true 
standard for practical purposes than any other. 

An extensive collection was made of screw bolts from the principal 
workshops throughout England, and the average thread was carefully 
observed for different diameters. 

(Then follows the well-known table showing the number of threads per 

It will be remembered that the threads, of which the preceding table 
shows the average, are used in cast iron as well as wrought; and this cir- 
cumstance has had its effect in rendering them coarser than they would 
have been if restricted to wrought-iron. 


Figure 25. Sir Joseph Whitworth 


tures of the United States.^ Nearly all the memoirs of 
WMtworth refer to the profound effect of this report. 
As one reads it today, it seems difficult to see why it 
should have had so much influence. It is probable that 
Whitworth's own personal report to the influential men 
about him contained much which does not appear in the 
formal report. In it he takes up steam engines, railway 
supplies, woodworking tools, electric telegraph, textile 
mills, and gives brief accounts of some of the factories 
and methods which he found at various places in New 
England and the Middle States. The longest descrip- 
tion is given to the Springfield Armory, but even this is 
a mere fragment, and the only detailed information is 
of the time necessary to finish a gun-stock. We know, 
however, that this armory and the various private 
armories they saw, made an impression upon Whitworth 
and the whole Commission which led to the remodeling 
of the British gun-making plant at Enfield. Nasmyth 

The variation in depth among the different specimens was found to be 
greater proportionately than in pitch. The angle made by the sides of the 
thread will afford a convenient expression for the depth. The mean of 
the variations of this angle in 1-in. screws was found to be about 55 
deg., and this was also pretty nearly the mean of the angle in screws of 
different diameters. As it is for various reasons desirable that the angle 
should be constant, more especially with reference to general uniformity 
of system, the angle of 55 deg. has been adopted throughout the entire 
scale. A constant proportion is thus established between the depth and 
the pitch of the thread. 

In calculating the former, a< deduction is to be made for the quantity 
rounded off, amounting to one-third of the whole depth — that is, one-sixth 
from the top and one-sixth from the bottom of the thread. Making this 
deduction it will be found that the angle of 55 deg. gives for the actual 
depth rather more than three-fifths and less than two-thirds of the pitch. 
The precaution of rounding off is adopted to prevent the injury which the 
thread of the screw, and that of the taps and dies, might sustain from 

5 "Report of the British Commissioners to the New York Industrial 
Exhibition." London, 1854. 


was also concerned in this and a fuller account of it will 
be given later. 

The conclusion of Whitworth's report shows clearly 
that he was deeply impressed with the extent to which 
the automatic principle was being applied to machine 
tools in America. ''The labouring classes," he says, 
**are comparatively few in number, but this is counter- 
balanced by, and indeed, may be regarded as one of the 
chief causes of, the eagerness mth which they call in 
the aid of machinery in almost every department of 
industry. Wherever it can be introduced as a substi- 
tute for manual labour, it is universally and willingly 
resorted to. . . . It is this condition of the labour mar- 
ket, and this eager resort to machinery wherever it can 
be applied, to which, under the guidance of superior edu- 
cation and intelligence, the remarkable prosperity of the 
United States is mainly due." Another characteristic 
of American manufacture attracted his attention, — the 
tendency toward standardization. In his address in 
1856 he condemns the overmultiplication of sizes preva- 
lent in every branch of English industry. 

Shortly after his return from America, Whitworth 
was requested by the government to design a complete 
plant for the manufacture of muskets. He disapproved 
of the Enfield rifle and declined to undertake the work 
until exhaustive tests were made to determine the best 
type of rifle. The government, therefore, equipped a 
testing plant and range near Manchester, and Whit- 
worth began a series of tests which showed the Enfield 
rifle to be inferior in almost every respect. He then 
submitted a new rifle, designed on the basis of his experi- 
ments, which embodied the small bore, an elongated 
projectile and a rapid rifle-twist and great accuracy of 
manufacture. Although this rifle excelled all others in 
accuracy, penetration and range, it was rejected by the 


war office. Some thirty years later, the Lee-Metford 
rifle, which embodied Whitworth's improvements, was 
adopted, but only after these principles had been recog- 
nized and used by every other government in Europe. 
His contributions to the inanufacture of heavy ordnance 
were even greater, but they met with the same reception 
from the war office. In 1862 he completed a high-pow- 
ered rifle cannon with a range of six miles, the propor- 
tions of which were substantially those in use today. 
He developed the manufacture of fluid compressed steel, 
about 1870, to supply a stronger and more reliable mate- 
rial for ordnance use. Few men in any country have 
had a greater influence on the design and development 
of ordnance and armor. His partnership with Sir Wil- 
liam Armstrong resulted in one of the greatest gun 
factories in the world. 

Whitworth married twice but had no children. He 
acquired a great fortune. During his lifetime he estab- 
lished the famous Whitworth scholarships. At his death, 
large sums were distributed by friends, to whom he had 
willed them for the execution of his wishes, and they 
devoted nearly £600,000 ($3,000,000) to the foundation 
or endowment of the Whitworth Institute, Owens Col- 
lege, and the Manchester Technical Schools, and other 
public institutions. In 1874 he converted his Manches- 
ter business into a stock company, giving the majority 
of the stock to his foremen and making provision for the 
acquiring of further stock by his clerks and workmen. 
While he was slow in receiving recognition from his 
own government, he became universally recognized as 
one of the greatest engineering authorities in the world, 
and was honored as few engineers have been, being 
elected to the Royal Society, chosen president of the 
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, given degrees by 


Dublin and Oxford, the Cross of the Legion of Honor; 
and, in 1869, made a baronet. 

As he grew older he became irritable and exceedingly 
dogmatic, possibly because of his long contests with 
slow-moving government officials. Charles T. Porter, 
in his autobiography, brings out this side of his nature 
and shows that the initiative of subordinates in his shop 
was practically killed. Perhaps this limited his service 
somewhat in his later years, but when all is taken into 
account, he was, without question, one of the greatest 
of mechanical engineers. He was a master experi- 
menter. Tests which he made were thorough, conclusive, 
and always led somewhere. His experiments, whether 
in machine tools, screw threads, or ordnance, always 
resulted in a design or process which sooner or later 
became standard. 

Whitworth's position as a tool builder is not weakened 
by the fact that most of the general tools had been 
invented by the time he began his independent work. 
He raised the whole art of tool building by getting at 
the fundamental conditions. He led the way in the 
change from the weak, architectural style of framing; 
introduced the box design or hollow frame for machin- 
ery, taking his suggestion from the human body, and 
very greatly increased the weight of metal used. 

In 1850 Whitworth was, without doubt, the foremost 
tool builder in the world. He had introduced a standard 
of accuracy in machine tools unknown before, and so 
improved their design and workmanship that he domi- 
nated English tool practice for several generations. In 
fact, the very ascendency of Whitworth's methods seems 
to have been an element in the loss of England's leader- 
ship in tool building. Most of the progressive work for 
the next fifty years was done in America. 


In the foregoing chapters we have traced briefly the 
work of the great English mechanics from 1800 to 1850. 
Their services to engineering, and, in fact, to mankind, 
cannot be measured. When they began, machine tools in 
any modern sense did not exist. Under their leadership 
nearly all of the great metal-working tools were given 
forms which have remained essentially unchanged. 
England had the unquestioned leadership in the field 
of machine tools. Machine-tool building in Germany and 
France was one or two generations behind that of Eng- 
land, and nearly all their machinery was imported from 
that country. With the exception of the early and incom- 
plete work of the ingenious French mechanics, which we 
have referred to from time to time, practically all of the 
pioneer work was done by Englishmen. 

In glancing back at these early tool builders, it will 
be seen that few of them were men of education. All 
were men of powerful minds, many of them with broad 
intellectual interests. It is suggestive to note one thing, 
whatever may be its bearing. Only three of all these 
men, Matthew Murray and the two Fairbairns, served 
a regular apprenticeship. Bentham and Brunei were 
naval officers; Bramah, a farmer's boy and cabinet- 
maker; Maudslay, a blacksmith; Clement, a slater; Rob- 
erts, a quarry laborer ; Nasmyth, a clever school boy ; and 
Whitworth, an office clerk. 

Whatever may have been the reason, the rapid 
advance of the English machine-tool builders ceased 
about the middle of the last century, and they have made 
but few radical changes or improvements since that time. 
At about the same time the American engineers intro- 
duced a number of improvements of very great impor- 

The great distance of America from England forced 
it into a situation of more or less commercial and 


mechanical independence. While France and Germany- 
were importing machine tools from England, America 
began making them and soon developed independence of 
design. The interchangeable system of manufactures 
and the general use of accurate working gauges, which 
were hardly known in England, developed rapidly in 
America. These, with the introduction of the turret, the 
protean cam, and precision grinding machinery, and the 
great extension of the process of milling, served in the 
next fifty years to transfer the leadership in machine- 
tool design from England to America. A visit to any 
one of the great machine shops in England, Germany or 
France will convince one that the leadership now rests 
with the American tool builders. 

The remaining chapters will take up the lives and work 
of those who have contributed to this great change. 


The phrase "Yankee ingenuity" has become a part of 
the English language. If New England no longer holds 
all the good mechanics in the United States, there was a 
time when she came so near it that the term ''New Eng- 
land mechanic" had a very definite meaning over the 
whole country. 

The industrial development of New England was long 
delayed, but once started it was rapid. Up to 1800 New 
England artisans supplied merely small local needs and 
there was little or no manufacturing in any modern 
sense; but from then on the development was so rapid 
that by 1850 New England was not only supplying the 
United States with most of its manufactured products, 
but was beginning to export machinery and tools to Eng- 
land, where machine tools originated. For five genera- 
tions, American mechanics had little or no industrial 
influence on Europe, and then within fifty years they 
began to compete on even terms. 

There were several reasons for this. A market for 
machinery must of necessity be a wide one, for no single 
community, not even a large modern city, can alone sup- 
port a great manufacturing enterprise. Machinery 
building can thrive only in a settled country having a 
large purchasing power and good transportation facili- 
ties. The colonies lacked all of these conditions; the 
people were widely scattered and poor, and there were 
practically no facilities for heavy transportation, at least 


by land. The colonial mechanics were often ingenious 
and skilled, but they had few raw materials and they 
could supply only their immediate neighborhood. Any 
approach to specialization and refinement was therefore 

The second cause for delayed development was Eng- 
land's industrial policy toward her American colonies. 
The colonists had hardly gained a foothold when they 
began to show a manufacturing spirit and an industrial 
independence which aroused the apprehension of the 
manufacturing interests in England. The first impor- 
tations of iron into England from the colonies came from 
Virginia and Maryland, about 1718.^ The importations 
for a few years thereafter are not known, as no records 
are available. They were sufficient, however, to arouse 
the jealousy of the English iron masters, for, although 
there was plenty of iron ore in England, they were 
beginning to feel seriously the shortage in wood which 
was then used for its reduction. They felt that the 
abundance of iron ore, fuel and water power in America 
constituted a serious menace, and they vigorously 
opposed the growth of any kind of manufacture in the 
colonies. This resulted in a prohibition of the manufac- 
ture of any form of ironware and of bar or pig iron by 
forges or other works. In spite of these repressive 
measures, a report on manufactures in the colonies, 
made to the House of Commons in 1731, indicated that 
New England had six furnaces, nineteen forges, one 
slitting mill and one nail factory.- These could, how- 
ever, have supplied only a small part of the materials 
required even for colonial use. By 1737 much discus- 
sion had arisen respecting the policy of encouraging 
importation of American iron, and petitions in favor 

1 J. L, Bishop : * ' History of American Manufactures, ' ' Vol. I, p. 625. 

2 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 623. 


of doing so were presented to Parliament. England 
imported at that time about 20,000 tons of foreign iron, 
15,000 from Sweden and 5000 from Eussia, most of which 
was paid for in money.^ It was urged that if this could 
be obtained from the colonies it could be paid for in 
British manufactures, at a saving of £180,000 annually. 
The annual production of bar iron in England was about 
18,000 tons, and on account of the shortage of wood this 
could not be materially increased. To encourage colonial 
exportation of pig and bar iron to England would, it 
was urged, be the best means of preventing such further 
manufacturing as would interfere with their own. It 
was, therefore, proposed that a heavy duty be laid on 
all iron and manufactured products imported into the 
colonies from continental Europe, and on all iron 
imported into England except from America. These 
views prevailed and resulted in the act of 1750, which 
was entitled *'An act to encourage the importation of 
pig and bar iron from His Majesty's Plantations in 
America," and provided that ''pig-iron made in the 
British Colonies in, America, may be imported, duty 
free, and bar-iron into the port of London; no bar-iron, 
so imported, to be carried coastwise, or to be landed at 
any other port, except for the use of his Majesty's dock 
yards ; and not to be carried beyond ten miles from Lon- 
don."* With this was incorporated another clause 
designed to arrest all manufacture at that stage. It 
was enacted that * ' from and after the 24th day of June, 
1750, no mill, or other engine for slitting or rolling 
of Iron, or any plating forge to work with a tilt- 
hammer, or any furnace for making steel shall be erected, 
or after such erection, continued in any of his Majesty's 

3 Ihid., Vol. "l, p. 623. 
*Ihid., Vol. I, p. 624. 


Colonies of America" under penalty of £200.^ This 
attempt to stifle the industrial life of the colonies, per- 
sistently adhered to, ultimately brought about the 

From 1730 to 1750 there had been an importation of 
about 2300 tons of bar iron annually, 90 per cent of 
which came from Maryland and Virginia, and a little 
less than 6 per cent from Pennsylvania. New England 
and New York were producing iron by that time, but 
were using nearly all of their product, hence their small 
share in the trade. The iron masters of the midland 
counties in England protested against this act, prophesy- 
ing the utter ruin of the English iron industry. Eng- 
land, they said, would be rendered dependent upon the 
colonies, and thousands of English workmen would be 
reduced to want and misery ; American iron could never 
supply the place of the Swedish iron in quality, nor the 
Russian iron in cheapness, consequently the manufacture 
of tools would be stopped and numberless families 
reduced to beggary. 

The manufacturers of Birmingham, on the other hand, 
petitioned that the bill was a benefit to their trade and to 
the colonists, who would exchange their raw products for 
British manufactures; that manufacturing was more 
valuable to the nation than the production of raw 
materials, and as iron could not be produced at home in 
such quantity and at such price as to supply all the needs 
of the manufacturers, it was the duty of Parliament to 
encourage the importation of raw materials, even if it 
should arrest their production in England; that the 
importation of iron from America could affect the iron 
works no more than the same quantity from any other 
country, and the home production was less than one-half 
the amount required, and growing steadily dearer: that 

B lUd., Vol. I, pp. 624-625. 


the increasing activity of the English manufacturers 
rendered it more and more necessary to obtain these 
materials at the lowest price, and the only way to do this 
was either to reduce the duty on continental iron, or 
make it necessary for English iron masters to reduce 
their prices by raising up a rival in America. They 
heartily concurred, however, in the prohibition of all fin- 
ishing of materials as an interference with British manu- 
factures. The merchants of Bristol petitioned that 
American bar iron, which was admitted only at the port 
of London, be imported duty free into all of His 
Majesty's ports. This discussion continued until 1757, 
when the privilege of importation was extended to the 
other ports of Great Britain.** 

Under the act of 1750, the importation rose to about 
3250 tons, 94 per cent of which still came from Maryland, 
Virginia and Pennsylvania. Practically all the iron 
produced in New England was used there, for, despite 
the repressive measures from the mother country, 
small local manufacturing enterprises, ''moonshine iron 
works," were constantly cropping up. The iron supply 
of New England came at first from the bog ores in 
eastern Massachusetts and Ehode Island. By 1730-1760 
better mines were opened at Salisbury, Conn., and in 
Orange County, New York, so that the production of iron 
in the bog-ore regions gradually dwindled. 
'/ The- Eevolution terminated British legislative control 
over the trade and manufactures of America. The war 
itself furnished a market for supplies for the army, and 
the manufacture of cannon and guns was active. Many 
of these factories were ruined by the flood of imports 
which followed the Eevolution. In 1789 the present 
Federal Government replaced the ineffective Confedera- 
tion, which had left to the separate states the duty of 

6 Ihid., Vol. T, pp. 626-627. 


protecting their manufacturing interests, and a tariff 
was placed upon manufactured articles. Freed from 
the old restrictions, and with foreign competition largely- 
precluded, manufacturing industries began to spring up 
on every hand. 

A third cause contributed to rapid development at 
this time. An enormous production of cotton followed 
Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1792, and the 
South, which had never been a manufacturing com- 
munity, furnished both a source of supply and a rich 
market, easily accessible by coastwise trade. The 
beginnings of New England's manufacturing industries 
are closely identified with the rise of the American cotton 
crop, and most of the first machine shops were developed 
to manufacture textile machinery. 

England, who seems to have blundered whenever she 
legislated on early American trade, made one more seri- 
ous mistake. In 1785 Parliament passed a stringent 
law, with severe penalties, to stop the emigration of all 
mechanics and workmen in iron and steel manufactures, 
and to prevent not only the exportation of every descrip- 
tion of tool, engine or machine, or parts of a machine 
used in making and working up iron and other mate- 
rials, but even the models and plans of such machinery.^ 
England was then the most advanced of all countries in 
the production of engines, tools and textile machinery, 
and it was hoped by this act that manufacturing might 
be kept there. It had the opposite effect so far as Amer- 
ica was concerned. It was inevitable that mechanics, 
such as Samuel Slater and William Crompton, should 
get away, and with them, ideas. The act only stimulated 
a race of skillful mechanics in America to independent 
development of machine tools, textile machinery, and the 
like. America, instead of buying her machinery from 

1 1bid., Vol. I, p. 630. 


England as she would naturally have done, proceeded to 
make it herself. 

One of the earliest American mechanics was Joseph 
Jenks, who came from Hammersmith, England, to Lynn, 
Mass., about 1642, and died in 1683. With the backing 
of Governor Winthrop, he set up an iron foundry and 
forge near a bog-iron mine. The very first attempt in 
America to start an iron works had been made in Vir- 
ginia more than twenty years before, at the settlement 
of Jamestown. It was hardly started, however, before 
it was destroyed in the general sack of the settlement, 
and for one hundred years there was no further attempt 
at producing iron in Virginia.^ 

From the little forge and foundry started at Lynn, 
there is no break in the spread of iron manufacturing in 
this country. The forge was located on the lands of 
Thomas Hudson, of the same family as Hendrick Hud- 
son, the explorer. Jenks was "the first founder who 
worked in brass and iron on the western continent. By 
his hands, the first models were made and the first cast- 
ings taken of many domestic implements and iron 
tools. "^ The very first casting is said to have been an 
iron quart pot. 

For many years the colonial records refer to his vari- 
ous activities. He made the dies for the early Massachu- 
setts coinage, including the famous pine-tree shilling.^" 
In 16-16 the General Court of Massachusetts resolved 
that ''In answer to the peticon of Joseph Jenckes, for lib- 
erty to make experience of his abilities and Inventions 
for ye making of Engines for mills to go with water for 
ye more speedy despatch of work than formerly, and 

8 Beverley: "History of Virginia." Bishop: "History of American 
Manufactures," Vol. I, pp. 469, 595. 

» Lewis : * * History of Lynn. ' ' 

loWeeden: "Economic and Social History of New England," Vol. I, p. 


mills for ye making of Sithes and other Edged tools, 
with a new invented Sawe-Mill, that things may he 
afforded cheaper than formerly, and that for fourteen 
yeeres without disturbance by any others setting up like 
inventions; . . . this peticon is granted. "^'^ In 1655 
he was granted a Massachusetts patent for scythes, his 
improvement consisting of making them long and thin, 
instead of short and thick, as in the old English sc5i;he, 
and of welding a bar of iron upon the back to strengthen 
it, which later became the universal practice,^^ and no 
radical change has been made in the blade of this imple- 
ment since his day. He built for the town of Boston the 
first fire engine used in this country, and also made 
machines for drawing wire. Jenks seems to have also 
been interested in another iron works started at Brain- 
tree between 1645 and 1650. 

An iron works was started at Raynham in 1652 by the 
Leonards, who came from England about the same time 
as Jenks and had worked at Lynn.^^ The Jenks and 
Leonard families were all mechanics. It used to be said 
that wherever you found a Leonard you found a 
mechanic; and the Jenks family has been in some form 
of manufacturing continuously from the days of Joseph 
Jenks to the present time. 

The near-by portions of Rhode Island and Massachu- 
setts centering on the headwaters of Narragansett Bay, 
became famous for the production and manufacture of 
iron. A young Scotchman, Hugh Orr, settled in Bridge- 
water about 1738. He was a pioneer in the manufac- 
ture of edged tools, and is said to have introduced the 
trip hammer into this country. ''For several years he 
was the only edge-tool maker in this part of the coun- 

11 Goodrich: "History of Pawtucket," p. 17. 

12 Weeden, Vol, I, p. 184. Bishop, Vol. I, p. 477. 

13 Bishop, Vol. I, p. 479. Weeden, Vol. I, p. 192. 


try, and ship-carpenters, millwrights, etc., . . . con- 
stantly resorted to him for supply. And, indeed, such 
was his fame, that applications were frequently made to 
him from the distance of twenty miles for the purpose 
of having an axe, an adze or an auger new tempered by 
his hands." In 1748, he built 500 stand-of-arms for the 
province, the first made in America, and later did much 
casting and boring of cannon during the Revolution. 
After the war, he made cotton machinery until his death 
in 1798, at the age of eighty-two. Weeden credits Hugh 
Orr with being ''perhaps the most conspicuous" Ameri- 
can iron worker in the eighteenth century. His son, 
Robert Orr, was also a skilled mechanic, and was one of 
the very early master armorers of the Springfield 

Joseph Holmes is another of the pioneers of this 
neighborhood. He is said to have made more than 3000 
tons of iron from bog ore, and ''Holmes' iron" was 
famous for anchors. He also furnished many of the 
cannon used in the Revolution. ^^ The Hope Furnace 
at Scituate, R. I., famous for many years, was started 
about 1735 by Daniel Waldo.'® A nail mill was in opera- 
tion at Milton, Mass., about 1740 or 1742. Another was 
started at Middleboro about 1745, on information stolen, 
it is said, from Milton by a mechanic disguised as a rus- 
tic." A mill for making scythes was in operation at 
Andover in 1715, and a "heavy" forge was in operation 
at Boston in 1720.'* Nearly all the cannon for the early 
American frigates were cast in and about Providence. 
Capt. Stephen Jenks was making arms in North Provi- 

14 Weeden, Vol. II, p. 685. Bishop, Vol. I, pp. 486-487. 

15 Bishop, Vol. I, p. 489. 

18 Field: "State of Ehode Island and Providence Plantations," Vol. Ill, 
p. 331. 

"Weeden, Vol. II, p. 499. 
18 Hid., Vol. II, p. 498. 


dence at the beginning of the Eevolution.^^ An account 
of the early attempts in iron manufacture in Ehode 
Island can be found in Vol. Ill of Field's ''State of 
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." 

The Jenks' influence had spread to Rhode Island as 
early as 1655 when Joseph Jenks, Jr., who had 
learned the business with his father, moved from Lynn 
to the headwaters of Narragansett Bay, and founded 
Pawtucket. He built a forge near a bog-ore mine and 
water power, and began making domestic utensils and 
iron tools. The settlement was destroyed by the Indians 
in 1675, during King Philip's war, but was soon rebuilt. 
The son of this Jenks, the third Joseph Jenks, was born 
there, and later became a very influential man in the 
colony. He was governor for five years and was inter- 
ested in many of its activities.^" Providence, from its 
better situation commercially, early became a trading 
center, but nearly all the manufacturing was done at 
Pawtucket on account of the abundant water power. In 
fact, it was not until the steam engine rendered manu- 
facturing independent of water power that Providence 
took the lead as an industrial center. 

In the enterprises centering about Pawtucket and 
Providence, one finds continually the names of Jenks, 
Wilkinson, Brown and Greene, among the latter that of 
Nathaniel Greene, the Revolutionary general, who had a 
cannon factory at Coventry. Of these early families 
the Wilkinsons were the most influential. Oziel Wilkin- 
son, a Quaker, came to Pawtucket from Smithfield, R. I., 
established an anchor forge there in 1784, and soon 
became the leading man in the community. He built 
an air furnace in 1791, and three years later he furnished 
castings for the Cambridge drawbridge and for canal 

19 Hid., Vol. II, p. 793. 

20 Goodrich, pp. 18-23. 


locks, probably those first used on the Merrimac Eiver.^* 
He and his family had a most important part in the 
development of early manufacturing in America. He 
had six sons and four daughters. Four of the sons 
worked in two partnerships, one of Abraham and Isaac 
(twins), the other of David and Daniel. The fifth son 
was also a successful manufacturer. One of his daugh- 
ters married Samuel Slater, who will be mentioned later; 
one married Timothy Greene, another, William Wilkin- 
son, and the youngest, Hezekiah Howe, all of whom were 
manufacturers. The remaining son, the only child 
unaccounted for, died at the age of four years." 

In 1794 David Wilkinson built a steamboat and made 
a trip in it of three and one-half miles from Winsor's 
Cove to Providence. He was not impressed with the 
practical value of it, and dismantled it after their 
''frolic.'' Before it was destroyed, however, a young 
man named Daniel Leach examined it carefully with the 
greatest interest. Later, when Fulton made his plans 
for the ''Clermont," the drawings were said to have been 
made by this same man, Leach.^^ 

In 1797 David Wilkinson invented a slide lathe which 
was patented the next year. The writer has not been 
able to obtain an accurate description of this. The most 
direct reference to it is a letter of Samuel Greene to 
Zachariah Allen, a prominent Ehode Island cotton manu- 
facturer, dated June 17, 1861, which says: "I suppose 
David Wilkinson to be the inventor of the slide lathe, 
at first applied to the making of large press screws, for 
which I believe he got a patent. I know he made appli- 

21 Ihid., p. 51, 

22 Israel Wilkinson: "Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family," pp. 220, 
461. Jacksonville, 111., 1869, 

23 Ihid., pp. 509-513; also, Field, Vol. Ill, p. 372. The name here is 
given as French. 


cation to the British Government, and I have heard said 
did get a grant." The patent ran out before the lathe 
came into general nse. Fifty years later Congress voted 
Wilkinson $10,000 ''for benefits accruing to the public 
service for the use of the principle of the gauge and 
sliding lathe, of which he was the inventor. ' '-* He seems 
to have been working on it in America at the same time 
as Maudslay in London." Sylvanus Brown, who helped 
Slater build the first Arkwright cotton machinery at 
Pawtucket, is also said to have invented the slide lathe 
still earlier (in 1791) and to have also used it for cutting 
wrought-iron screws for sperm-oil presses.^^ There are 
good records of Maudslay 's slide lathes; in fact, screw- 
cutting lathes made by him prior to 1800 are in the South 
Kensington Museum at London. Priority can hardly be 
claimed for these American lathes until something more 
is known of them, and whether they were the equal of 
Maudslay 's in design and quality. 

The Wilkinsons were closely identified with the early 
textile enterprises. As the gun industry developed the 
interchangeable system, so the cotton industry devel- 
oped the American general machine tool. At the close 
of the Revolution, many attempts were made to start 
textile industries, by Orr in 1786, Cabot at Beverly in 
1787, and Anthony at Providence in 1788, and also at 
Worcester. A man named Alexander is said to have 
operated the first loom with the flying shuttle in America, 
which was later moved to Pawtucket. Moses Brown, 

24 The Senate Committee which recommended this action consisted of 
Rusk of Texas, Cass of Michigan, Davis of Mississippi, Dix of New York, 
and Benton of Missouri. The bill passed the Senate in Jime, and the House 
in August, 1848. 

25 "Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family," pp. 506-508, 518. Goodrich, 
p. 51. 

26 Goodrich, p. 48. 


about 1790, imported a few spinning frames to Provi- 
dence, but they proved a failure. 

Samuel Slater, who married Wilkinson's daughter, 
was an Englishman who had served his time with Ark- 
wright and Strutt, and had become thoroughly familiar 
with the Arkwright machinery. In 1789 he had emi- 
grated to America with the purpose of starting a textile 
industry. We have already mentioned the embargo 
which England placed on mechanics and on all kinds of 
machinery. This had compelled Slater to use the great- 
est caution in leaving the country. Disguised, it is said, 
as a rustic, he went to London and sailed from there, 
giving no indication of his plans until after he had gone, 
when he had a letter sent to his family. He went first 
to Philadelphia, but hearing of Moses Brown's attempts 
at spinning in Providence, he wrote to Brown and made 
arrangements to go to Pawtucket and reproduce for him 
the Arkwright machinery. Slater was at that time only 
twenty years old. After a winter of hard work he suc- 
ceeded in making several frames with a total of seventy- 
two spindles, and two carding machines. These were 
started in a small building, later known as the Old Slater 
Mill, with an old negro named '' Primus" Jenks as motive 
power. During this winter Slater lived in the family of 
Oziel Wilkinson and married his daughter. The second 
mill was started in 1799 by Oziel Wilkinson and his three 
sons-in-law. Slater, Greene and Wilkinson." 

Doctor Dwight, in his travels, in 1810,^^ writes of 
Pawtucket : 

''There is probably no spot in New England of the 
same extent, in which the same quantity or variety of 
manufacturing business is carried on. In the year 1796, 
there were here three anchor forges, one tanning mill, 

2-! Ihid., pp. 39-51. 
28 Vol. II, pp. 27-28. 


one flouring mill, one slitting mill, three snuff mills, one 
oil mill, three fulling mills, a clothier's works, one cotton 
factory, two machines for cutting nails, one furnace for 
casting hollow ware — all moved by water — one machine 
for cutting screws, moved by a horse, and several forges 
for smith's work." This was long before Lowell, Law- 
rence and Manchester had come into existence. 

The Wilkinsons were interested in other things as 
well as in the cotton industries. David established a 
shop and foundry in Pawtucket, where for one thing he 
made cannon which he bored by an improved method 
consisting of ''making his drill and bore stationary and 
having the cannon revolve about the drill," He built 
textile machinery for almost every part of the country, 
from northern New England to Louisiana, and made 
the machinery used at New Bedford and other whaling 
ports for pressing sperm oil.^^ About 1816 David and 
Daniel Wilkinson bought out a man named Dwight 
Fisher and manufactured nails until 1829, their output 
being about 4000 pounds daily.'" In 1829 David Wil- 
kinson moved to Cohoes, N. Y., and with DeWitt Clinton, 
Stephen Van Rensselaer and others, started the textile 
industries in that city.'^ In 1832 Zebulon White started 
up one of the abondoned Wilkinson furnaces, which three 
years later was known as the Pawtucket Cupola Furnace 
Company. This afterwards became the firm of J. S. 
White & Company.'^ 

Oziel Wilkinson died in 1815, but the influence of the 
Wilkinson family continued for many years. Slater 
steadily widened his operations, and was so influential in 
laying the foundations of the textile industry that he 

2» Goodrich, p. 69. 

30 Field: "Ehode Island and Providence Plantations," Vol. Ill, p. 373. 
51 Van Slyck : ' ' Eepresentatives of New England Manufacturers, ' ' p. 515. 
32 Field, Vol. Ill, p. 372. 

Figure 26. Samuel Slater 


became known as 'Hhe father of the American cotton 
industry." How rapidly the cotton industry spread is 
shown by a memorial to Congress in 1815, stating that 
there were 140 cotton manufactures within thirty miles 
of Providence, employing 26,000 hands and operating 
130,000 spindles.^^ Only a few of the more important 
ramifications can be given. 

In 1822 Samuel Slater, Larned Pitcher and three 
others bought a little two-story building at what was 
then Goffstown, on the Merrimac Eiver, and founded the 
great Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, and the city 
of Manchester, N. H. It is now known as the greatest 
textile mill in the world, but the company's original char- 
ter was very broad, and, in addition to its other inter- 
ests, the company operated for many years one of the 
largest and most influential machine shops in the coun- 
try, where were built locomotives, engines, boilers, all 
kinds of textile machinery, machine tools and mill 

Alfred Jenks, who learned his trade under Slater, 
moved to Holmesburg, near Philadelphia, in 1810, taking 
with him drawings of every variety of cotton machinery, 
as far as it had then advanced, and commenced its manu- 
facture.^* He furnished the machinery for the first cot- 
ton mill in that portion of Pennsylvania and for the first 
woolen mill in the entire state, and developed what was 
for many years one of the most important plants for the 
building of textile machinery in the United States. 

Eleazer Jenks built a machine shop at Pawtucket in 
1813 for heavy forging and for the manufacture of spin- 
ning machinery, which was occupied by David Wilkinson 
for many years."^ The same year, Larned Pitcher also 

33 Bishop, Vol. II, p. 214, 

34 Ibid., Vol. Ill, p. 18. 
36 Goodrich, p. 64. 


started a shop there, and soon took in P. Hovey and 
Asa Arnold. In 1819 Ira Gay was taken in, and the 
firm became Pitcher & Gay, one of the largest manufac- 
turers of cotton machinery. Gay remained in Paw- 
tucket until 1824, when he went to New Hampshire in 
connection with the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company 
and the Nashua Manufacturing Company, then just start- 
ing.^^ A few years later Ira Gay and Zeba, his brother, 
started a shop at North Chelmsford for building textile 
machinery. With the growth of the Merrimac textile 
interests, this plant became very influential and is nin- 
ning today. The firm has changed several times with the 
deaths of various partners, and is now kno^^^l as the 
North Chelmsford Machine & Supply Company. It has 
preserved many of the old tools used in the early days, 
and there are few shops of greater historical interest in 
this country. 

Capt. James S. Brown, son of the Sylvanus Bro^vn 
referred to, who had worked for David Wilkinson in 
1817, succeeded Ira Gay in the Pawtucket shop, the firm 
becoming Pitcher & Brown. In 1842 Brown became sole 
owner and greatly enlarged the works. The shop which 
he built in 1847 was 400 feet long and employed over 
300 workmen. Brown lived for many years and made 
many valuable inventions, which included a beveled gear 
cutter, boring machine, grinder, improvement in the 
Blanchard type of lathe, and many improvements in tex- 
tile machinery. Some of the lathes which he himself 
built in 1820 were in use for seventy years.^^ 

Col. Stephen Jenks started a shop in 1820 for the 
making of nuts and screws, which later became the Wil- 
liam H. Haskell Company of Pawtucket. Alvin Jenks, 

36 Ihid., p. 66. 
if Ibid., pp. 71-72. 


of Stephen Jenks & Sons, went to Central Falls in 1829 
and the next year entered into partnership with David 
Q. Fales. This firm, known as Fales, Jenks & Company, 
built cotton machinery for many years, and moved to 
Pawtucket in 1865.^* The Jenkses of the Fales & Jenks 
Machine Company, as it is known now, are lineal descend- 
ants of the original Joseph Jenks of Lynn. 

In 1834 Jeremiah O. Arnold, who as a yonng man 
worked for David Wilkinson, and his brother, Joseph 
Arnold, started in Pawtucket the first press for making 
nuts. Later, Joseph Arnold retired and "VYilliam Field 
took his place, the firm becoming William Field & Com- 
pany. They moved to Providence in 1846, and in 1847 
became the Providence Tool Company.^* The Provi- 
dence Forge & Nut Company was organized by some 
men from the Tool Company in 1852, and a plant was 
built. Four years later the new venture was absorbed 
by the parent company, which moved to the new plant. 
The Providence Tool Company had a wide influence for 
many years, manufacturing the Household sewing 
machine and the Martini rifle, as well as a line of tools. 
In 1883 it was reorganized and became the present Rhode 
Island Tool Company. 

The Franklin Machine Company was started by Stan- 
ford Newell, Isaac Thurber and others, about 1800. The 
plant was always referred to in the old records as "The 
Cupola." During the War of 1812 it was busy making 
cannon under the charge of Isaac Wilkinson, one of 
Oziel's sons, who was then a boy only seventeen years 
old.*" The Builders Iron Foundry, formerly known as 
**The High Street Furnace," began business some time 
prior to 1820. The American Screw Company had its 

38 Ihid., p. 72. Also, Field, Vol. Ill, p. 373. 

39 Goodrich, p. 75. 

40 Field, Vol. Ill, p. 375. 


beginning in the Eagle Screw Company, organized in 
1838 under the leadership of William G. Angell. Ham- 
pered by serious litigation and sharp competition, it con- 
tinued with indifferent success until 1849, when Mr. 
Angell, adopting a machine invented by Thomas J. 
Sloan of New York, brought out the pointed screw. The 
New England Screw Company, whose inventor, Cullen 
Whipple, had come from the earlier Providence Screw 
Company, united with the Eagle Screw Company in 1860, 
forming the present American Screw Company. 

The Corliss Machine Works were started in 1848. 

Brown & Sharpe, the most important and influential 
of all the Providence plants, was established in 1833 by 
David Brown and his son, Joseph R. Bro^vn. The history 
of this company is so important that it will be taken up 
in a separate chapter. 

One can hardly turn from the history of manufactures 
in Providence without some reference to the manufactur- 
ing of jewelry. A Cyril Dodge made silver shoe buckles 
"two doors north of the Baptist meeting-house" about 
the time of the Revolution, but the first real manufac- 
turer of jewelry in Providence was Nehemiah Dodge, 
who, just after the Revolution, started in a little shop 
on North Main Street as a goldsmith and watchmaker. 
He also made necklaces, rings and miniature cases. 
Dodge lived to be over ninety years old and to see the 
industry spread wonderfully. By 1805 there were three 
other jewelers, one of whom, by the way, was a Jenks, 
and they employed all told about thirty workmen. In 
1810 there were 100 workmen; in 1815, 175; and 
in 1832, 282. The census writers of 1860 give eighty- 
six shops with 1761 workmen; in 1880, 148 shops 
with 3264 employees, and in 1890 there were 170 shops 
employing 4380. These figures cover Providence only. 
Many other shops were located in near-by towns. These 


were all small and tended to multiply. The journeymen 
were the highest paid artisans anywhere about, earning 
from $5 to $10 a day, and two or three were constantly 
setting up for themselves. The oldest jewelry firm in 
or about Providence is said to be the Gorham Manu- 
facturing Company now located in the suburb of 
Elmwood. Jabez Gorham, its founder, was first 
engaged as a jeweler with four others about 1813. 
In 1831 he formed a partnership with H. L. Webster, 
a journeyman silversmith from Boston, and specialized 
on the making of silver spoons, thus starting the Gor- 
ham Manufacturing Company.'*^ Palmer & Capron, 
another old firm, was founded about 1840. 

There were other early centers of mechanical influ- 
ence. With the invention of steam navigation, New York 
became a center of engine building for the steamboat 
trade, and the Allaire, Quintard, Fletcher, Delamater, 
and other works, were well known many years ago, but 
for some reason New York City has never been conspic- 
uous for tool building, the Garvin Machine Company 
being the only large firm in this field. Worcester, Hart- 
ford, Philadelphia and Windsor, Vt. (small and secluded 
as it is), have contributed signally to tool building 
throughout this country and Europe, and will be taken 
up later. We have considered Pawtucket first, because 
it was the earliest center and because its wide influence 
in building up other centers is little realized. The exten- 
sive water power available in the Merrimac Valley gave 
rise to the great textile interests of Manchester, Lowell 
and Lawrence, which have far outstripped those centered 
about Pawtucket, but the textile industry began in Paw- 
tucket and with it the building of machinery and tools. 

41 Ihid., Vol. Ill, pp. 377-381. 



It is well, in beginning, to define what we mean by 
the interchangeable system. We will consider it as the 
art of producing complete machines or mechanisms, the 
corresponding parts of which are so nearly alike that 
any part may be fitted into any of the given mechanisms. 
So considered, it does not include the manufacture of 
separate articles, closely like each other, but which do 
not fit together permanently into a mechanism. If this 
were meant, the work of the early typefounders would 
clearly antedate that of the modern manufacturers, as 
they produced printing types by the process of casting 
which were similar to each other within very close limits. 
There is, however, a wide difference between this and 
the parts in such a mechanism as a gun, for individual 
types are not permanently articulated. 

The interchangeable system was developed by gun 
makers. It is commercially applicable chiefly to articles 
of a high grade, made in large numbers, and in which 
interchangeability is desirable. Of the typical articles, 
such as firearms, bicycles, typewriters, sewing machines, 
and the like, now produced by the interchangeable sys- 
tem, guns and pistols are the only ones which antedate 
the system itself. These were used in great numbers, and 
in military arms especially interchangeability was of the 
highest value. Under the old system with hand-made 
muskets, in which each part was fitted to its neighbors, 


the loss or injury of a single important part put the whole 
gun out of use until it could be repaired by an expert 
gunsmith. Eli Whitney, in a letter to the War Depart- 
ment in 1812, stated that the British Government had on 
hand over 200,000 stands of muskets, partially finished 
or awaiting repairs/ The desirability, therefore, of some 
system of manufacture by which all the parts could be 
standardized and interchangeable, was well recognized. 
There existed a demand for military arms which could 
meet this condition, but it was felt at the time that it was 
impossible to meet it. 

The system of interchangeable manufacture is gener- 
ally considered to be of American origin. Tn fact, for 
many years it was known in Europe as the ''American 
System" of manufacture. If priority be assigned to the 
source which first made it successful, it is American ; but 
the first suggestions of the system came from France. 
We have already seen that the French mechanics were 
the first to work upon many of the great mechanical 
improvements ; but here, as in the case of the slide-rest 
and planer, they seem to have caught the idea only. It 
was left to others to make it a practical success. 

At least two attempts were made to manufacture guns 
interchangeably in France, one in 1717, the other in 1785. 
Of the first we know little. Fitch, in his ''Report on the 
Manufactures of Interchangeable Mechanisms," in the 
United States census of 1880, speaks of it, but says it 
was a failure.^ We know of the second from an interest- 
ing and surprising source. Thomas Jefferson, while 
Minister to France, wrote a letter to John Jay, dated 
August 30, 1785, which contains the following: 

An improvement is made here in the construction of mus- 
kets, which it may be interesting to Congress to know, should 

1 Blake: "History of Hamden, Conn.," p. 133. 

2 p. 2. 


they at any time propose to procure any. It consists in the 
making every part of them so exactly alike, that what belongs 
to any one, may be used for every other musket in the magazine. 
The government here has examined and approved the method, 
and is establishing a large manufactory for the purpose of 
putting it into execution. As yet, the inventor has only com- 
pleted the lock of the musket, on this plan. He will proceed 
immediately to have the barrel, stock, and other parts, executed 
in the same way. Supposing it might be useful in the United 
States, I went to the workman. He presented me the parts of 
fifty locks taken to pieces, and arranged in compartments, I 
put several together myself, taking pieces at hazard as they came 
to hand, and they fitted in the most perfect manner. The advan- 
tages of this, when arms need repair, are evident. He effects it 
by tools of his owti contrivance, which, at the same time, abridge 
the work, so that he thinks he shall be able to furnish the musket 
two livres cheaper than the common price. But it will be two 
or three years before he will be able to furnish any quantity. I 
mention it now, as it may have an influence on the plan for 
furnishing our magazines with this arm.^ 

Six months later he wrote a letter to the governor of 
Virginia, which is almost a copy of this one. In another 
letter written many years later to James Monroe, Jeffer- 
son gives the name of this mechanic as Le Blanc, saying 
that he had extended his system to the barrel, mounting 
and stock, and stating: *'I endeavored to get the U. S. 
to bring him over, which he was ready for on moderate 
terms. I failed and I do not know what became of 
him."* We wish to give full credit to this genius who 
seems to have caught a clear idea of some at least of the 
principles involved, those of interchangeability and the 
substitution of machine work for hand work. The 

3 "The Writings of Thomas Jefferson," Edited by H. A. Washington, 
Vol. I, p. 411. New York, 1853. 

<"The Writings of Thomas Jefferson," Edited by Paul L. Ford, Vol. 
VIII, p. 101. New York, 1887. 


account makes no mention of gauges or of the division of 
labor, but this might easily have been due to Jefferson's 
unfamiliarity with the details of manufacture. 

We have seen in a previous chapter that a close ap- 
proach to the interchangeable system was made in the 
Portsmouth block machinery of Bentham and Brunei. 
This was rather an application of modern manufacturing 
principles than a specific case of interchangeable manu- 
facture. The interchangeability of product obtained was 
incidental to good manufacturing methods, not a distinct 
object aimed at, and there does not seem to have been any 
system of gauging during the processes of manufacture, 
to insure maintaining the various parts within specified 
limits of accuracy. In fact, the output itself did not 
require it, as ship's blocks do not call for anything like 
the precision necessary in guns or the other typical 
products of the interchangeable system. 

"We have seen, too, that John George Bodmer began 
about 1806 to manufacture guns at St. Blaise in the 
Black Forest, using special machinery for much of the 
work previously done by hand, especially for the parts 
of the lock, which 'Svere shaped and prepared for imme- 
diate use, so as to insure perfect uniformity and econo- 
mize labor. ' ' In both of these instances, the Portsmouth 
block machinery and the St. Blaise factory, definite steps 
which form part of the interchangeable system were 
taken, but it does not seem probable that the system 
existed in anything like the completeness with which it 
was being developed at that time in America. 

In 1798 and 1799 two contracts were let by the United 
States Government for firearms, one to Eli Whitney in 
1798, the other to Simeon North in 1799. These con- 
tracts are of the greatest importance. Whitney had 
invented the cotton gin in 1792. This invention, as is 
well known, had a profound economic effect on the whole 


civilized world, but the condition of the patent laws at 
that time and the very value of the invention itself made 
it impossible for him to defend his rights ; and, although 
he had practically created a vast industry, he actually 
lost more money by the invention than he gained. By 
1798 he made up his mind that he must turn to some- 
thing else. He chose the manufacture of muskets, and 
addressed a letter to Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the 
Treasury, in which he said : 

I should like to undertake the manufacture of ten to fifteen 
thousand stand of arms. I am persuaded that machinery moved 
by water, adapted to this business would greatly diminish the 
labor and greatly facilitate the manufacture of this article. 
Machines for forging, rolling, floating, boring, grinding, polish- 
ing, etc., may all be made use of to advantage.^ 

His contract of 1798 resulted. From the very start 
Whitney proposed to manufacture these arms on a ''new 
principle. ' ' He built a mill at Whitneyville, just outside 
of the city of New Haven, utilizing a small water power. 
Nearly two years were required to get the plant into 
operation, as he had to design and build all of his pro- 
posed machinery. In 1812 when making application for 
another contract for 15,000 muskets, Whitney writes : 

The subscriber begs leave further to remark that he has for 
the last 12 years been engaged in manufacturing muskets; that 
he now has the most respectable private establishment in the 
United States for carrying on this important branch of busi- 
ness. That this establishment was commenced and has been 
carried on upon a plan which is unknown in Europe, and the 
great leading object of which is to substitute correct and effec- 
tive operations of machinery for that skill of the artist which is 
acquired only by long practice and experience ; a species of skill 

8 "New Haven Colony Historical Society Papers," Vol. V, p. 117. 


which is not possessed in this country to any considerable 

In another place it is stated that the object at which 
he aimed and which he accomplished was '*to make the 
same parts of different guns, as the locks, for example, 
as much like each other as the successive impressions of a 
copper-plate engraving. ' " 

Mr. Whitney's determination to introduce this system 
of manufacturing was ridiculed and laughed at by 
the French and English ordnance officers to whom he 
explained it. They said that by his system every arm 
would be a model and that arms so made would cost enor- 
mously. Even the "Washington officials were skeptical 
and became uneasy at advancing so much money mthout 
a single gun having been completed, and Whitney went 
to Washington, taking with him ten pieces of each part 
of a musket. He exhibited these to the Secretary of War 
and the army officers interested, as a succession of piles 
of different parts. Selecting indiscriminately from each 
of the piles, he put together ten muskets, an achievement 
which was looked on with amazement. We have not the 
exact date of this occurrence, but it was probably about 

Meantime Simeon North, who unlike Whitney was a 
gun maker by trade, had completed his first contract for 
1500 pistols, and had executed a number of others. In 
these no mention was made of interchangeability, but 
whether independently or not, he very soon began to 
develop the same methods as Whitney. In a letter to the 
Secretary of the Navy in 1808, North says : 

eJfctU, p. 122. 

1 Denison Olmstead : ' * Memoir of Eli Whitney, ' ' p. 50. 1846. 

8 Blake: "History of Hamden, Conn.," p. 138. 


I find that by confining a workman to one particular limb of 
the pistol untill he has made two thousand, I save at least one 
quarter of his labour, to what I should provided I finish^ them 
by small quantities ; and the work will be as much better as it is 
quicker made.® 

He also says in the same letter : 

I have some seventeen thousand screws & other parts of pistols 
now forgd. & many parts nearly finished & the business is going 
on brisk and lively. 

Here is clearly the principle of subdivision of labor and 
the beginning of the standardizing of parts. In 1813 
North contracted to furnish 20,000 pistols. This agree- 
ment contained the following significant clause : 

The component parts of the pistols are to correspond so exactly 
that any limb or part of one Pistol may be fitted to any other 
Pistol of the Twenty thousand.^" 

It is stated in the valuable memoir of Simeon North, 
by his great-grandsons, that this is the first government 
contract in which the contractor agreed to produce arms 
having interchangeable parts, and it is consequently 
claimed for Colonel North that he originated this process. 

We have not had an opportunity to examine the official 
records in Washington in regard to Mr. Whitney's deal- 
ings, but it is quite clear from his letter of 1812 that he 
had been operating on this basis for nearly ten years, 
although it may not have been formally recognized in his 
contracts with the Government. Capt. Decius Wads- 
worth, then inspector of muskets, wrote to the Secretary 
of the Treasury in 1800 as follows : 

8S. N. D. and R. H. North: "Memoir of Simeon North," p. 64. 1913. 
10 Ibid., p. 81. 


But where the different parts of the lock are each formed and 
fashioned successively by a proper machine, and by the same 
hand, they will be found to differ so insensibly that the similar 
parts of different locks may be mutually substituted. The 
extending of this principle to all parts of a musket has been a 
favorite idea with Mr. Whitney from the beginning. It has been 
treated and ridiculed as a vain and impracticable attempt by 
almost all those who pretended to superior knowledge and experi- 
ence in the business. He has the satisfaction, however, now of 
shewing the practicability of the attempt. Although I am of the 
opinion that there is more to please the imagination than of real 
utility in the plan, yet as it affords an incalculable proof of his 
superior skill as a workman, and is what I believe has never been 
attempted with success before, it is deserving of much con- 

Furthermore, Jefferson, in the letter to Monroe writ- 
ten in 1801, says in speaking of Whitney : 

He has invented molds and machines for making all the pieces 
of his locks so exactly equal, that take 100 locks to pieces and 
mingle their parts and the 100 locks may be put together by 
taking the pieces which come to hand.^^ 

In a letter to the Secretary of War in June, 1801, 
Whitney writes : ' * . . . my system and plan of opera- 
tions are, I believe, entirely new and different from those 
heretofore pursued in this or any other country. 

''It was the understanding and expectation of the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, with whom I contracted, that I 
should establish a manufactory on the principles which 
were then pointed out and explained to him. This sys- 
tem has been uniformly pursued from the beginning. ' '" 

It would seem that the stipulation in North's contract 
of 1813 was not so much the beginning of a new method 

11 Blake, p. 296. 

12 See note 4, page 130. 

13 Blake, p. 300. 


as a recognition of methods which had already come into 
existence. It seems almost inevitable that the two men, 
pioneer manufacturers and government contractors in 
closely allied industries, and located but twenty miles 
apart, must have known more or less of each other's 
work and have been influenced by each other's methods. 
Without trying to differentiate the credit between them 
too closely it is quite certain that in the work of these 
two men the interchangeable system had its birth. 
Colonel North's work for the Government was invariably 
well done, and for more than fifty years he continued to 
supply, first pistols, and later rifles for the army and 
navy. Of the two, ^Vhitney had the greater influence in 
spreading the interchangeable system throughout the 
country. He was well known and influential through his 
invention of the cotton gin and was located in a larger 
center. He was called upon by the Government for 
advice, and at its request sent to Springfield some of his 
best workmen to introduce his system there, and also 
help to start it at Harper's Ferry. Whitney built his 
factory in 1798 or 1800, and employed at the start about 
sixty men. Colonel North moved from Berlin to Middle- 
town in 1813, and built a factory at a cost of about $100,- 
000, where he employed seventy men and produced about 
thirty pistols a day. The interchangeable system was 
well begun in both of these factories by 1815. 

The Springfield armory had been started during the 
Revolution, mainly for making cannon. In 1792 Con- 
gress authorized the President to establish two arsenals 
for small arms. These were located at Springfield in the 
North, and Harper's Ferry in the South. In 1811 Captain 
Hall was granted a patent for a gun which was 
adopted as the government standard in 1819 and the 
Government undertook to manufacture them at one of 
its own armories. Captain Hall was placed in charge of 


the work and the plant at Harper's Ferry was equipped 
for interchangeable manufacture." Later many of these 
rifles were made by private contractors, such as Colonel 
North. By 1828 in one of Colonel North's contracts we 
find the principle of interchangeability extended still 
further. It is guaranteed that the component parts 
should be interchangeable, not only in the lot contracted 
for, but that they may be exchanged in a similar manner 
with the rifles made or making at the national armories.^*^ 
In 1836 Samuel Colt invented his revolver, and the 
first lot contracted for by the Government was made at 
the Whitney works in 1847. Mr. Colt determined about 
1850 to establish his own factory, moved to Hartford, 
and in 1854-1855 built the present Colt's Armory, in 
which the principles of interchangeable manufacture 
were adopted in a most advanced form. Hand work 
was practically eliminated and automatic and semi- 
automatic machinery substituted. A type of manufac- 
turing miller, built for this work by George S. Lincoln 
& Company, is still known as the Lincoln miller. E. K. 
Eoot, superintendent under Colt, had a profound influ- 
ence in the development of manufacturing at this time. 
He put the art of die forging on its present basis. At 
first he used a type of hammer in which four impres- 
sions were arranged in four different sets of dies. The 
hammers were lifted, first by a set of dogs, later by a 
central screw, and the operator walked around the 
machine, using the impressions successively. A few 
years later the present form of board drop was devel- 
oped. Two of George S. Lincoln & Company's men were 
Francis A. Pratt, superintendent, and Amos Whitney, 
contractor, who later founded the firm of Pratt & 

. 14 "Memoir of Simeon North/' pp. 168-169. 
15 Ihid., p. 160. 


In 1857 Smith & "Wesson began manufacturing revol- 
vers at Springfield along similar lines. Mr. Smith had 
worked in the old "Whitney shops. Another firm of great 
influence was that of Bobbins & Lawrence, later the 
"Windsor Machine Company, in "Windsor, "Vt. Frederick 
"W. Howe built there a number of machines for profile 
milling, rifling, barrel drilling, and is said to have 
designed the first ''universal" miller in 1852.^® The 
Ames Manufacturing Company in Chicopee, which had 
been founded in 1829, was also engaged in this work. 
By 1850 the interchangeable system began to extend its 
influence abroad. Bobbins & Lawrence had an exhibit 
of interchangeable guns in the exposition at London in 
1851, which attracted much attention. In 1853 a British 
Commission came to this country and visited the govern- 
ment and private armories, the Ames Manufacturing 
Company and Bobbins & Lawrence. During the visit 
of this Commission at Springfield, Major Bipley, super- 
intendent of the armory, ordered ten guns, which had 
been manufactured in ten successive years, from 1843 
to 1853, to be stripped, and the parts to be reassembled 
at random. 

As a result of this visit 20,000 interchangeable Enfield 
rifles were ordered by the English Government, and in 
1855, 157 machines for the manufacture of guns were 
sent to England. These machines comprised seventy- 
four millers, twenty-three drilling machines, five tap- 
ping machines, and seven edging machines. The 
remainder were special machines for threading, rifling, 
turning, boring, and so on." In this list of machines 
scarcely a single lathe is found and no mention is made 

18 Not to be confused with the Brown & Sharpe universal milling machine, 
which was invented by Joseph R. Brown in 1871, 

17 Fitch: "Report on Manufactures of Interchangeable Mechanism," 
U. S. Census, 1880. Volume on "Manufactures." 













of any turret machines. Ten or fifteen years later 
there would have been a large number. James H. 
Burton, who had been at the Harper's Ferry armory 
and was at the time with the Ames Manufacturing Com- 
pany, went over to England to install the new system and 
operate the new plant. The Ames Manufacturing Com- 
pany alone is said to have exported four to five hundred 
stocking machines of the Blanchard type on these early 
foreign orders. Within the next fifteen or twenty years 
nearly every government in Europe was supplied with 
American gun-making machinery, all planned to operate 
on the interchangeable system, which was known every- 
where as ''the American system." 

Nasmyth was concerned in the introduction of this 
machinery into England. His mention of it in his auto- 
biography throws light on how the interchangeable sys- 
tem was looked upon by the English engineers : 

In 1853 I was appointed a member of the Small Arms Com- 
mittee for the purpose of remodeling and, in fact, re-establish- 
ing, the Small Arms Factory at Enfield. The wonderful suc- 
cess of the needle gun in the war between Prussia and Denmark 
in 1848 occasioned some alarm amongst our military authorities 
as to the state of affairs at home. The Duke of Wellington to 
the last proclaimed the sufficiency of "Brown Bess" as a weapon 
of offense and defense ; but matters could no longer be deferred. 
The United States Government, though possessing only a very 
small standing army, had established at Springfield a small 
arms factory, where, by the use of machine tools specially- 
designed to execute with the most unerring precision all the 
details of muskets and rifles, they were enabled to dispense with 
mere manual dexterity, and to produce arms to any amount. 
It was finally determined to improve the musketry and rifle 
systems of the English army. The Government resolved to 
introduce the American system,^^ by which arms might be pro- 
is Italics are ours. 


duced much more perfectly, and at a great diminution of cost. 
It was under such circumstances that the Small Arms Committee 
was appointed. 

Colonel Colt had brought to England some striking examples 
of the admirable tools used at Springfield^" and he established 
a manufactory at Pimlico for the production of his well-known 
revolvers. The committee resolved to make a personal visit to 
the United States Factory at Springfield. My own business 
engagements at home prevented my accompanying the members 
who were selected; but as my friend John Anderson (now Sir 
John) acted as their guide, the committee had in him the most 
able and effective helper. He directed their attention to the 
most important and available details of that admirable estab- 
lishment. The United States Government acted most liberally 
in allowing the committee to obtain every information on the 
subject; and the heads of the various departments, who were 
intelligent and zealous, rendered them every attention and 

The members of the mission returned home enthusiastically 
delighted with the results of their inquiry. The committee 
immediately proceeded with the entire remodeling of the Small 
Arms Factory at Enfield. The workshops were equipped with 
a complete series of special machine tools, chiefly obtained from 
the Springfield factory.^" The United States Government also 
permitted several of their best and most experienced workmen 
and superintendents to take service under the English Govern- 

In using the term 'interchangeable" it must be remem- 
bered that the meaning attached to this word grew dur- 
ing these years. The interchangeability of 1813 would 
not have been considered satisfactory in 1855, much less 
so today. When Hall completed his first hundred rifles 

19 Hartford? 

20 This must be a mistake. The machinery seems to have been supplied 
chiefly by Eobbins & Lawrence and the Ames Mfg. Co. Mr. Burton of the 
latter company installed it. 

21 Autobiography of James Nasmyth, pp. 362-363. 


at Harper's Ferry in 1824, it is said that 'Hhe joint of 
the breech block was so fitted that a sheet of paper would 
slide loosely in the joint, but two sheets would stick." 
This system of gauging will have a familiar sound to 
the older mechanics who grew up before the days of 
the micrometer. AVhen Colonel North was given his 
first contract for the rifles and furnished two models to 
work from, these models were so unlike that he asked to 
have one set aside and that he be allowed to gauge his 
work from the other. 

Of the various tools associated mth interchangeable 
manufacture, drilling jigs were in use very early, prob- 
ably from the start. The filing jig is said to have been 
invented by Selah North, the son of Colonel North, but it 
was used by Whitney almost as early. Both Whitney 
and Colonel North were using plain milling by 1820. A 
light sort of milling machine is shown in the French 
Encyclopedia of 1772, already referred to, but the first 
successful one was built by Mr. Whitney some time prior 
to 1818. This machine, still in existence and now in the 
possession of the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale Uni- 
versity, is shown again in Fig. 28." In 1817 to 1822 we 
find the introduction of forging in hand dies, barrel 
turning by special machinery, and the Blanchard lathe 
for gun-stocks. Receiving gauges are said to have been 
used at Middletown in 1829, and were regularly in use 
at Springfield by 1840. Automatic machinery for the 
woodworking was first invented by Blanchard in 1818 
for the Springfield armory. The accuracy of these 
machines, shown in Fig. 29, outran that of the metal 
work of the time. To accommodate the variations still 
present in the metal parts Blanchard devised a machine 
which used the actual lock plates as formers and cut 

22 For a detailed account of this machine and its history see American 
Machmist, Vol. XXXVI, p. 1037. 




6J O 

00 ;5 

S ^' 

■ 2 

00 f^ 

2 H 























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the stocks to match, and such machines were used at 
Springfield until 1840. By that time the work on the 
metal parts could be made as accurately as the stocks, 
and this method was no longer necessary. A modern 
degree of accuracy in shaping of the metal portions 
was not possible until the miller came into general use 
for irregular shapes, which was some time in the forties. 
By 1842, for the new musket to be manufactured at 
Springfield, there was a complete set of model jigs, taps 
and gauges. The profiling machine was developed by 
F. W. Howe, R. S. Lawrence, and E. K. Root, from 
1848 to 1852. A drop hammer with dies was used by 
Hall of Harper's Ferry in 1827, the head of which was 
raised by a moving chain and freed by a trip at the 
desired height. Later Peck invented his lifter, using a 
strap. The Root drop hammers we have already men- 
tioned. The board drop is largely the work of Spencer. 

Probably no machine has had so great an influence on 
interchangeable manufacture as the automatic turret 
lathe. The turret lathe, "the first radical improvement 
on Maudslay's slide-rest," was built commercially by 
Robbins & Lawrence in 1854, and is said to have grown 
out of a revolving-head bolt cutter which Henry D. 
Stone saw at Hartford. The turret idea was not 
originated by Stone. Root and Howe had used it a 
number of years before, and it had been utilized by 
several others. All of these turrets except Howe*s 
seem to have had a horizontal axis instead of the ver- 
tical one which became general. Later improvements 
by C. M. Spencer and a long line of brilhant mechanics 
have increased the accuracy of the turret lathe and made 
it more nearly automatic than any other type of general 
machine tool. Today it is, with the milling machine, 
the main reliance for interchangeable work. 

In sketching the development of interchangeable 


methods in American shops, we have confined onr atten- 
tion to gun makers chiefly. They were by no means the 
only ones to have a part in this development, but they 
were its originators, they determined its methods, and 
developed most of the machines typical of the process. 
About 1830 Chauncey Jerome began the manufacture 
of brass clocks. Terry, Thomas and other Connecticut 
mechanics had been manufacturing wooden clocks, which 
gave way to metal clocks as the advantage of inter- 
changeable manufacture became recognized. In 1848 
A. L. Dennison founded the American Watch Company 
at Waltham. The interchangeable system has nowhere 
reached a higher development than in the work of this 
company and of the other great watch factories. In 
1846 Elias Howe was granted his patent on sewing 
machines, and within four or five years their manufac- 
ture sprang up on a large scale. Both of these indus- 
tries, watch and clock manufacture and the manufacture 
of sewing machines, utilized a system which was already 
well established. Since that time it has been applied to 
a wide variety of articles. 


In the last chapter we considered the rise of the inter- 
changeable system of manufacture and saw that it 
started in the shops of Eli Whitney, at New Haven, and 
of Simeon North, at Middletown. The lives of these men 
are of much interest, particularly that of Whitney. His 
struggle in defense of his patent rights on the cotton gin 
is instructive for all who see a high road to fortune in 
the patenting of a valuable invention. 

Measured by its economic effect, the cotton gin is one 
of the greatest of inventions. As an industrial factor 
its success was immediate and far-reaching. It devel- 
oped the agricultural resources of nearly half the United 
States, made possible its gigantic cotton crop, vastly 
increased the wealth of this country and, to a scarcely 
less extent, that of England; and yet toward the end of 
his life, Mr. Whitney said that he had hardly more than 
''come out even on it"; and this in spite of the fact that 
his patent was sustained and was apparently one of the 
most valuable ever granted. 

A patent for an invention which meets a widespread 
and pressing need, and for which there is a tremendous 
demand, is difficult to defend. Watt's rights in the steam 
engine were established only after a long and bitter 
fight, and he would have failed and died a disappointed 
man had it not been for the indomitable courage and 
business skill of his partner, Matthew Boulton. Whit- 
ney was a far better business man than Watt, but his 


partner was not in any way the equal of Boulton. If he 
had been, the story of the cotton gin might have been 

Whitney saw the futility of depending solely on patent 
rights and wisely turned his splendid talents to manu- 
facturing; where, without patent protection of any kind, 
by methods then new, but which have since spread 
throughout the world, he built up a fortune. Someone 
has said that the besetting sin of mechanics is invention. 
This may, or may not, be true, but it is worth pondering 
whether superior methods and business judgment are 
not still the best industrial protection. 

Eli Whitney, whose portrait is slio^\m in Fig. 30, was 
born in Westborough, Mass., in 1765. He came from 
that best school of mechanics, the New England hill farm. 
Most of the early American mechanics, like him, came 
from the country and had the same training of hard 
work with simple implements, and learned to turn their 
hand to nearly everything, and to work with few and 
rough tools. From his boyhood he showed mechanical 
talent. When he was fifteen, mth his father's consent, 
he began making nails with the aid of such rudimentary 
tools as he could contrive. This was during the Revolu- 
tionary War, when nails were in great demand and 
brought a high price. By hard work he built up a profit- 
able little business which he carried on for two winters 
in addition to the ordinary work of the farm during the 
summer. The business grew beyond his capacity to care 
for alone, so he set out on horseback to a neighboring 
town in quest of a fellow laborer. Not finding one as 
easily as he had anticipated, he rode from town to town 
with the persistence which was a strong trait in his char- 
acter, until forty miles from home he found such a work- 
man as he desired. During this journey he called at 
every workshop on his way and absorbed all the infor- 


mation he conld respecting the mechanical arts. When 
the nail business ceased to be profitable after the war, he 
turned his attention to knife blades and to the making of 
the long pins for bonnets then in fashion. He showed 
so much skill that he nearly monopolized the latter 

When nineteen years old, Whitnjey determined to 
obtain a liberal education, but he was not able to gain his 
father's consent until he was twenty-three. Then, in 
1788, with money made partly in his little manufacturing 
business and partly from teaching school, he entered 
Yale College. He completed his college education with 
but little expense to his father who paid a few of the last 
of his college bills, for which the son gave his note and 
which he paid soon after graduation. His work at college 
was creditable, rather than brilliant; he left a marked 
impression behind him for good judgment, sound reason- 
ing and steady, intelligent work.^ 

There were few school facilities in the South at that 
time and many of the wealthy planters had their children 
educated by private tutors. In the fall of 1792, the year 
in which he graduated, Whitney was engaged as a private 
tutor in a family in Georgia. On his way there he met 
Mrs. Greene, the widow of General Nathaniel Greene, 
who was returning to Savannah after spending the sum- 
mer in the North. When Whitney reached Georgia he 
found that, despite his engagement, another had been 
given his place and he was stranded, practically penni- 
less, a thousand miles from home and not knowing which 
way to turn. Mrs. Greene kindly invited him to make 
her house his home. He did so, and began to study law 

1 The best sources of information on Whitney are : Olmstead : * ' Memoir 
of Eli Whitney, Esqr." New Haven, 1846. Blake: "History of Hamden, 
Conn." New Haven, 1888. Blake: "Sketch of the Life of Eli Whitney," 
"New Haven Colony Historical Society Papers," Vol. V, 1894. 


under her hospitable roof. Here he met Phineas Miller, 
a native of Connecticut and also a graduate of Yale Col- 
lege, who had himself come south as a tutor in the Greene 
family and after General Greene's death had become 
manager of his estate. He was a man of cultivated mind, 
of eager, hopeful temperament and later he married 
Mrs. Greene. 

Shortly after Wliitney's coming, a large party of 
gentlemen from Augusta and the upper country, con- 
sisting principally of officers who had served under the 
General in the Revolutionary army, were visiting Mrs. 
Greene. In the course of the conversation the deplor- 
able state of agriculture was discussed, and great regret 
expressed that there was no means of separating green 
seed cotton from its seed, since all the lands which were 
unsuitable for the cultivation of rice and long staple 
cotton, would yield large crops of green seed cotton. 
The black or long staple cotton had already been intro- 
duced successfully in the Sea Islands, but it could not 
be grown inland. It was vain to think of raising green 
seed or upland cotton for the market unless some 
machine could be devised which would facilitate the pro- 
cess of cleaning. Separating one pound of the staple 
from the seed was a day's work for one woman. During 
this conversation Mrs. Greene told them that Whitney 
could invent their machine, sa\ang, **He can make any- 
thing.'* This incident turned Whitney's attention to the 
subject. Encouraged by Miller he dropped his law 
studies, went to Savannah, obtained a small parcel of 
raw cotton, and set himself at work on the problem. 
With such resources as the plantation afforded he made 
tools suited to his purpose, drew his own wire and by the 
close of the winter had so far developed the machine as 
to leave no doubt of its success. The first model he made 
(made, it is said, in about two weeks) is still in existence 


in the possession of his grandson, the present Eli Whit- 
ney. The three essential elements of his gin, the rotary- 
wheel with forward pointing wires or teeth, the slotted 
bar, and the revolving brushes for cleaning the teeth, 
remain practically unchanged today. 

At that time the market was glutted with such products 
as Georgia produced, trade was languishing, and there 
was little employment for the negroes or support for the 
white inhabitants. Mrs. Greene indiscreetly showed the 
first machine to visitors and the news soon leaked out 
that a means had been devised for separating more cot- 
ton in one day, with the labor of a single man, than could 
have been done in the usual manner in the space of many 
months. An invention so important to the agricultural 
interest could not long remain a secret. The knowledge 
spread throughout the state and so great was the excite- 
ment that multitudes from all quarters came to see the 
machine. It was not deemed safe to gratify their curi- 
osity until patent rights were secured, but so determined 
were they that the building was broken into by night and 
the machine carried off. In this way the public became 
possessed of the invention, and before Whitney could 
secure his patent a number of machines were in success- 
ful operation. They deviated only slightly from the origi- 
nal and gave Whitney much trouble later in establishing 
his rights to the invention. 

In the spring of 1793, Miller and Whitney formed a 
partnership under the name of Miller & Whitney, for 
developing the business, and Whitney returned to Con- 
necticut to perfect the machine, obtain a patent, and 
manufacture and ship to Georgia machines to meet the 
demand. At the start they made a fatal error of policy 
in deciding to buy the seed themselves, gin it and sell the 
product. Protected by their patent, they planned to 
maintain a monopoly of this business. Later they were 


willing to manufacture and sell the machines for gen- 
eral use or to sell the rights. If they had done this at 
the start much of the opposition which they incurred 
might have been obviated. Whitney, at least, was a clear- 
sighted business man and if he had realized the magni- 
tude of the result of his invention he would probably not 
have chosen this course. 

There is not another instance in the history of inven- 
tion of the letting loose of such tremendous industrial 
forces so suddenly. The inventions of Arkwright, 
Watt, Fulton and Stephenson have affected society quite 
as profoundly as did that of the cotton gin, some of 
them more so, but in none of these cases were the results 
so immediate. In 1784 only eight years before Whit- 
ney's invention, eight bales of cotton from the United 
States which were landed at Liverpool were seized on 
the ground that they could not have been produced in 
the United States.^ In 1791 the total production of cot- 
ton in the world was estimated at 490,000,000 pounds, 
of which the United States produced 2,000,000 pounds, 
or only ^45, of which 189,316 pounds were exported. 
In 1792 they exported 138,328 pounds, an actual 
decrease of 51,000 pounds from the previous year. In 
1793, the year after the gin was invented, there was an 
exportation of 487,000 pounds; in 1794 of 1,601,000 
pounds ; in 1795 of 6,276,000 pounds. By 1800 the total 
production had risen to 35,000,000 pounds, of which 
17,790,000 pounds were exported. In 1845 the total 
estimated output of the world was 1,169,600,000 pounds, 
of which the United States produced nearly seven- 
eighths.^ At the present time the output of the United 

2 Olmstead : * ' Memoir of Eli Whitney, Esqr, ' ' p. 63. Also, Encyclopedia 
Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol. VII, p. 264, 

3 Olmstead : * * Memoir. ' ' Also Merchant 's Magazine, Vol. VT, Article 
on "History of the American Cotton Trade," by James H. Lanman. 


States is about 15,000,000 bales, or 7,000,000,000 pounds. 
Less than 1 per cent of this is ''Sea Island" or long 
staple cotton. All the rest is upland or green seed 
cotton, cleaned on the Whitney type of gin, and made 
commercially available by his method of cleaning. 

The intensity of the demand for the use of this machine 
made it practically impossible to defend a patent right 
upon it. The patent laws of the country, as has been 
stated, were crude at that time, and the infringement 
suits were tried before juries composed of the very men 
who were interested in breaking the patent. 

Nearly all of the great inventions have been develop- 
ments to which a number of inventors have contributed, 
as in the case of the steam engine, the locomotive, and 
the steamboat ; but the fundamental invention of the cot- 
ton gin was due to Whitney and to Whitney alone. And 
yet in a letter written to Eobert Fulton, at a later date, 
he says: 

My invention was new and distinct from every other: it 
stood alone. It was not interwoven with anything before known ; 
and it can seldom happen that an invention or improvement 
is so strongly marked, and can be so clearly and specifically 
identified; and I have always believed, that I should have had 
no difficulty in causing my rights to be respected, if it had been 
less valuable, and been used only by a small portion of the com- 
munity. But the use of this machine being immensely profitable 
to almost every planter in the cotton districts, all were inter- 
ested in trespassing upon the patent-right, and each kept the 
other in countenance. Demagogs made themselves popular by 
misrepresentation and unfounded clamors, both against the right 
and against the law made for its protection. Hence there arose 
associations and combinations to oppose both. At one time, but 
few men in Georgia dared to come into court and testify to the 
most simple facts within their knowledge, relative to the use of 
the machine. In one instance, I had great difficulty in proving 


that the machine had been used in Georgia, although, at the same 
moment, there were three separate sets of this machinery in 
motion, within fifty yards of the building in which the court 
sat, and all so near that the rattling of the wheels was distinctly 
heard on the steps of the court-house.* 

It should in justice be said that at first there was no 
widespread disposition on the part of the Georgia plant- 
ers to avail themselves of the invention unlawfully, but 
later nearly all, deluded by the general attitude, joined 
in the attack upon the inventor's rights. 

The unfortunate policy adopted by Miller & "Whitney 
worked to their disadvantage in two ways. First, they 
could not themselves produce machines fast enough to gin 
the rapidly increasing crops ; and second, their policy of 
buying the seed and ginning it themselves meant financ- 
ing the entire crop and called for a vastly greater capital 
than they had at their command. Infringing machines 
sprang up on every side, their most formidable rival 
being the saw gin of Hodgin Holmes, in which circular 
saws were used instead of a drum with inserted wires as 
in Whitney's original gin. The idea of such teeth had 
occurred to Whitney, as he afterward proved; but not 
until 1807 did he completely establish his right over this 

Perplexities and discouragements dogged their steps 
from the start. In 1795 the shop which they had built 
in New Haven, together with all machines and papers, 
was consumed by fire. In the diary of President 
Stiles of Yale College is an entry: ''March 12 (1795). 
Yesterday morning Mr. Whitney's workshop consumed 
by fire. Loss 3000 Dol. about 10 finished machines for 
seeding cotton & 5 or 6 unfinished, & all the tools which 
no man can make but Mr. Whitney, the inventor, & which 
he has been 2 years in making." They found great diffi- 

4 Olmstead, p. 58. (Italics are ours.) 

Figure 30. Eli Whitney 


culty in raising money, even at rates from 12 to 25 per 
cent. With these misfortunes upon them, word was 
received from England that the manufacturers con- 
demned the cotton cleaned by their machines on the 
ground that the staple was injured. They had thirty gins 
at work in eight different places in Georgia and many of 
these were brought to a standstill. It was nearly two 
years before this prejudice could be overcome. By that 
time, however, encroachments on their patent right had 
become so extensive as almost to annihilate its value. 
The first infringement suit was tried in 1797 and went 
against them. An appeal was denied on technicalities.^ 
At a second trial, in 1798, a great number of witnesses 
had been collected from various parts of the country, 
some of them from one hundred miles away, when the 
judge failed to appear, and, of course, no court was 
held.^ Mr. Miller writes in 1799 that 'Hhe prospect of 
making anything by ginning in this State, is at an end. 
Surreptitious gins are being erected in every part of the 
country; and the jurymen at Augusta have come to an 
understanding among themselves, that they will never 
give a verdict in our favor, let the merits of the case be 
as they may.'" The firm would now gladly have relin- 
quished their plan of doing the ginning themselves and 
confined their operations to the sale of patent rights; 
but few people would buy a patent right which could be 
used with impunity without purchase. 

In 1801 South Carolina voted the purchase of the pat- 
ent rights on the cotton gin for that state for $50,000, 
$20,000 to be paid in hand and the remainder in three 
annual payments of $10,000 eacb. A year later Whitney 
sold the right for North Carolina. The legislature laid 

5 Ihid., p. 26. 

6 Ibid., p. 27. 

7 Hid, p. 27. 


a tax on every saw, to be continued for five years. After 
deducting the expenses of collection, the proceeds were 
to be passed over to the patentee. Negotiations were 
also entered into with the state of Tennessee. The pros- 
pects of the firm were, therefore, gromng more favor- 
able, when the legislature of South Carolina suddenly 
annulled the contract, refused pajonent due, and sued for 
the refunding of what had already been paid. Doubts 
were raised as to the validity of the patent ; the patentees 
were charged mth nonfulfillment of a part of their con- 
tract relating to the submission of models ; it was charged 
that somebody in S^vitzerland had conceived of the idea 
beforehand; and that Whitney had been antedated in 
the use of saws instead of wire teeth by Holmes. This 
action was the result of the political agitation against 
the patent, which was strong throughout the cotton- 
growing states. Tennessee followed the example of 
South Carolina, and the same attempt was made in 
North Carolina, but the legislative committee to whom 
it was referred reported in Whitney's favor, declaring 
that such action was a breach of contract and of good 
faith. In 1803 Mr. Miller, who had represented the firm 
in the South, died disappointed and broken by the 

In the following year South Carolina rescinded its 
action and carried out its contract, so that from North 
and South Carolina Whitney received a considerable 
sum. In all he received about $90,000; $50,000 from 
North Carolina; at least $30,000 from South Carolina 
and about $10,000 from Tennessee. A large portion of 
this amount was, however, balanced by the cost of the 
endless litigation in Georgia. More than sixty suits had 
been instituted in the latter state before the first decision 
was obtained on the merits of the claims. 

This decision was rendered in the United States Court 


in December, 1807, by Judge Jobnson. Wbitney, as the 
survivor of the firm of Miller & "Whitney, was suing a 
man named Arthur Fort for violation of the patent right 
and for a perpetual injunction restraining him from use 
of the gin. Judge Johnson's decision is so clear a state- 
ment of the situation, and so splendid an example of 
justice in the face of popular agitation that we give it 
nearly in full : 

Defendant admits most of the facts in the bill set forth, but 
contends that the complainants are not entitled to the benefits 
of the act of Congress on this subject, because : 

1st. The invention is not original. 

2d. It is not useful. 

3d. That the machine which he uses is materially different 
from their inventions, in the application of an improvement, the 
invention of another person. . . . 

There are circumstances in the knowledge of all mankind, 
which prove the originality of this invention more satisfactorily 
to the mind, than the direct testimony of a host of witnesses. 
The cotton plant furnished clothing to mankind before the age 
of Herodotus. The green seed is a species much more productive 
than the black, and by nature adapted to a much greater variety 
of climate. But by reason of the strong adherence of the fiber to 
the seed without the aid of some more powerful machine for 
separating it, than any formerly known among us, the cultiva- 
tion of it would never have been made an object. The Machine 
of which Mr. Whitney claims the invention, so facilitates the 
preparation of this species for use, that the cultivation of it has 
suddenly become an object of infinitely greater national 
importance than that of the other species ever can be. Is it 
then to be imagined that if this machine had been before dis- 
covered, the use of it would ever have been lost, or could have 
been confined to any tract or country left unexplored by com- 
mercial enterprise? But it is unnecessary to remark further 
upon this subject. A number of years have elapsed since Mr. 
Whitney took out his patent, and no one has produced or pre- 


tended to prove the existence of a machine of similar construction 
or use. 

2d. With regard to the utility of this discovery, the Court 
would deem it a waste of time to dwell long upon this topic. 
Is there a man who hears us, who has not experienced its util- 
ity? The whole interior of the Southern States was languish- 
ing, and its inhabitants emigrating for want of some object to 
engage their attention and employ their industry, when the 
invention of this machine at once opened views to them, which 
set the whole eountiy in active motion. From childhood to 
age it has presented to us a lucrative employment. Individuals 
who were depressed with poverty and sunk in idleness, have 
suddenly risen to wealth and respectability. Our debts have 
been paid off. Our capitals have increased, and our lands 
trebled themselves in value. We cannot express the weight 
of the obligation which the country owes to this invention. The 
extent of it cannot now be seen. Some faint presentiment may 
be formed from the reflection that cotton is rapidly supplanting 
wool, flax, silk, and even furs in manufactures, and may one 
day profitably supply the use of specie in our East India trade. 
Our sister states, also, participate in the benefits of this inven- 
tion; for, besides affording the raw material for their manu- 
factures, the bulkiness and quantity of the article afford a 
valuable employment for their shipping. 

3d. The third and last ground taken by the defendant, 
appears to be that on which he mostly relies. In the specifica- 
tion, the teeth made use of are of strong wire inserted into 
the cylinder. A Mr. Holmes has cut teeth in plates of iron, and 
passed them over the cylinder. This is certainly a meritorious 
improvement in the mechanical process of constructing this 
machine. But at last, what does it amount to except a more 
convenient method of making the same thing? Every charac- 
teristic of Mr. Whitney's machine is preserved. The cylinder, 
the iron tooth, the rotary motion of the tooth, the breast work 
and brush, and all the merit that this discovery can assume, is 
that of a more expeditious mode of attaching the tooth to the 
cylinder. After being attached, in operation and effect they 


are entirely the same. Mr. Whitney may not be at liberty to 
use Mr. Holmes' iron plate, but certainly Mr. Holmes' improve- 
ment does not destroy Mr. Whitney's patent right. Let the 
decree for a perpetual injunction be entered.* 

This decision was confirmed by a series of subsequent 
ones, and from that time onward there was no serious 
questioning of the patent right. 

In 1812 Mr. Whitney made application to Congress 
for the renewal of his patent. In his memorial he points 
out that his patent had nearly expired before it was sus- 
tained; that his invention had been a source of wealth 
to thousands of citizens of the United States; that the 
expense to which he had gone in defense of the patent 
had left him little or no return on the invention ; that the 
men who had grown rich by the use of his machine had 
combined to prevent the patentee from deriving reward 
from his invention; that in the state where he had first 
introduced the machines he had received nothing; that 
from no state had he received all told an amount equal 
to ^ cent per pound on the cotton cleaned by his machine 
in one year; that the whole amount received by him for 
his invention had not been equal to the labor saved in 
one hour by the cotton gins then in use in the United 
States ; that the invention had already trebled the value 
of land throughout a great extent of territory; that the 
degree to which the cultivation of cotton would still be 
augmented was incalculable ; and that the species of cot- 
ton grown had from time immemorial never been known 
as an article of commerce until his method of cleaning 
it had been invented. He closed with an argument for 
the policy of providing adequate reward for the encour- 
agement of invention.® Notwithstanding these argu- 

8 Ibid., p. 39. 

» Ibid., pp. 55-57. 


ments and a favorable committee report, the application 
was rejected. With the exception of a few liberal-minded 
men, nearly all the members from the cotton-growing 
states opposed the application strongly. 

Whitney combined in a singular degree high inventive 
capacity with clear judgment and steady determination. 
By 1798 he saw that his hopes for any large return from 
the cotton gin were uncertain. He turned to the manu- 
facture of firearms and by steady, sure steps built up 
another business and died a well-to-do man. In this 
second enterprise he developed the interchangeable sys- 
tem of manufacture and thereby influenced modern 
society almost as greatly as he had in the invention of 
the cotton gin, although this is little realized by the 
general public. 

In the chapter on ' ' The Rise of Interchangeable Manu- 
facture" we traced AVhitney's work as a gun manufac- 
turer from 1798, Avhen he first applied for his contract 
for ten thousand muskets. His undertaking of this con- 
tract required courage and self-confidence. Although 
he was not a trained gun maker, he proposed ''from 
the start" to manufacture guns by a new method, which 
was ridiculed by those familiar, with the manufacture 
of firearms at that time. He had to build a plant, design 
and equip it with new and untried types of tools; and 
to educate workmen to his methods. Furthermore, he 
did this work, involving $134,000, under bond for satis- 
factory performance. The high estimation in which 
Whitney was held by those who knew him is evidenced 
by the fact that, although he was already embarrassed 
and embarking on an entirely new kind of enterprise, 
ten of the foremost men of New Haven signed his bond 
for the faithful performance of his contract. 

A contemporary, intimately acquainted with his work, 
has outlined his method of manufacture in words which 


describe the interchangeable system, as it exists today, 
so accurately that we give it in full: 

The several parts of the muskets were, under this system, 
carried along through the various processes of manufacture, in 
lots of some hundreds or thousands of each. In their various 
stages of progress, they were made to undergo successive opera- 
tions by machinery, which not only vastly abridged the labor, 
but at the same time so fixed and determined their form and 
dimensions, as to make comparatively little skill necessary in 
the manual operations. Such were the construction and arrange- 
ment of this machinery, that it could be worked by persons of 
little or no experience, and yet it performed the work with so 
much precision, that when, in the later stages of the process, the 
several parts of the musket came to be put together, they were 
as readily adapted to each other, as if each had been made for 
its respective fellow. ... It will be readily seen that under 
such an arrangement any person of ordinary capacity would 
soon acquire sufficient dexterity to perform a branch of the work. 
Indeed, so easy did Mr. Whitney find it to instruct new and 
inexperienced workmen, that he uniformly preferred to do so, 
rather than to attempt to combat the prejudices of those who 
had learned the business under a different system.^" 

It took him a much longer time to fulfill the contract 
than he had anticipated; two years elapsed before his 
plant was ready. Only 500 guns were delivered the first 
year instead of 4000, and the entire contract required 
eight years instead of two from the time when he began 
actual manufacture. In spite of this delay he kept the 
confidence of the government officials, who were very 
liberal in their treatment of him; so much had been 
advanced to him to help him develop his machinery that 
when the contract was completed only $2450 out of the 
total of $134,000 remained to be paid. The work was 
highly satisfactory, and in 1812 he was awarded another 

^0 Ibid., pp. 53-54. 


contract for 15,000 muskets from the United States Gov- 
ernment and one for a similar number from the State of 
New York. "What is known of his methods and machin- 
ery is given in the chapter referred to, which shows also 
how they spread to other armories throughout the 

The business which Mr. "Whitney started was carried 
on for ninety years. After his death in 1825 the armory 
was managed for ten years by Eli Whitney Blake, later 
inventor of the Blake stone crusher, and Philos Blake, 
his nephews. From 1835 to 1842 it was managed by 
ex-Governor Edwards, a trustee of Mr. Whitney's 
estate. His son, Eli Whitney, Jr., then became of age 
and assumed the management, and that same year 
obtained a contract for making the ''Harper's Ferry" 
rifle, — the first percussion lock rifle, all guns before that 
date having had flint locks. 

Eli Whitney, Jr., continued to develop the art of gun 
making. He introduced improvements in barrel drilling 
and was the first to use steel for gun barrels. In 1847, 
during the Mexican War, Jefferson Davis, then a colonel 
in a Mississippi regiment, wrote to the Ordnance 
Department at Washington, that it was his opinion that 
the steel-barreled muskets from the Whitney armory 
were ''the best rifles which had ever been issued to any 
regiment in the world." The Whitney Arms Company 
supplied the Government with more than 30,000 rifles of 
this model. The company continued in existence until 
1888, when the plant was sold to the Winchester Eepeat- 
ing Arms Company. It was operated by them for a 
number of years in the manufacture of 22-calibre rifles. 
This work was subsequently removed to their main 
works and the plant was sold to the Acme Wire Com- 
pany, and later to the Sentinel Gas Appliance Company, 
its present owner. Some of the original buildings are 


still standing. It may be of interest to note that at the 
time the works were first built, a row of substantial 
stone houses was built by Whitney for his workmen, 
which are said to have been the first workmen's houses 
erected by an employer in the United States. 

In person Mr. Whitney was tall and dignified. He 
had a cultivated mind and a manner at once refined, 
frank and agreeable. He was familiar with the best 
society of his day and was a friend of every president 
of the United States from George Washington to John 
Quincy Adams. He had a commanding influence among 
all who knew him. Seldom has a great inventor been 
more sane, for his powers of invention were under per- 
fect control and never ran wild. Unlike those who devise 
many things but complete few, he left nothing half exe- 
cuted. Eobert Fulton said that Arkwright, Watt and 
Wliitney were the three of his contemporaries who had 
done the most for mankind." Lord Macaulay is quoted 
as saying, "What Peter the Great did to make Russia 
dominant, Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin has 
more than equaled in its relation to the progress and 
power of the United States. ' '^^ He contributed immeas- 
ureably to the agriculture and the manufacturing meth- 
ods of the whole world and few mechanics have had a 
greater influence. 

Simeon North was born at Berlin, Conn., the same 
year as Whitney, and like him, started life as a farmer. 
In 1795 he began making scythes in an old mill adjoin- 
ing his farm. Just when he began making pistols is not 
clear. It is said that he made some for private sale as 
early as the time of the Revolution, and it is probable 
that he had begun their manufacture in a small way 
prior to receiving his first government contract. He 

11 Blake: "History of Hamden, Conn.," p. 303. 

12 Devans : ' ' Our First Century, ' ' p. 153. 


may have learned the rudiments of the trade from Elias 
Beckley, who had a gun shop about a mile from North's 

In March of 1799, about a year after Whitney received 
his first contract for muskets, North received his first 
contract for horse-pistols, 500, which were to be delivered 
in one year. This was followed by others for 1500 
in 1800; 2000 in 1802; 2000 in 1808; 1000 in 1810, and 
others not known. By 1813 he had made at least 10,000 
and was employing forty or fifty men. In none of these 
contracts was there any mention made of interchangeabil- 
ity, but some time during these years North began to use 
interchangeable methods. The correspondence quoted in 
the previous chapter and the quotations already given 
show that Whitney was working on the same basis from 
the start. It is a great pity that Colonel North's papers 
were destroyed after his death, as they might have 
thrown some light on the question as to how and when 
he began to use interchangeable methods. It is impos- 
sible now to say how much Whitney and North influenced 
each other if they did at all. In 1812 the Secretary of 
War visited North's shop at Berlin, Conn., and urged him 
to increase his plant. On receiving the contract of 1813, 
North purchased land in Middletown, Conn., and built a 
dam and a three-story brick armory, 86x36 feet, on the 
best lines known at that time, involving in all an expendi- 
ture of $100,000. The old factory was run in conjunction 
with the new one until 1843, when it was closed. 

North began making barrels of steel in 1848, only a 
year or two after Eli Whitney, Jr., and contributed many 
improvements in the design of the pistols and guns 
which he built. The Eemington Arms Company, the 
Savage Fire Arms Company, the Maynard Eifle Com- 

13 The fullest account of Simeon North is given in the ' ' Memoir of 
Simeon North," by S. N. D, North and E. H. North. Concord, N. H., 1913. 


pany and the Massachusetts Arms Company, all trace 
back in some way to him, and, like Whitney, he deeply 
influenced the practice of the United States Government 
in its armories at Springfield and Harper's Ferry. 

Colonel North's first contract with the Government 
was made in 1799; his last was finished in 1853, a year 
after his death, covering in all about 50,000 pistols and 
33,000 rifles. He worked under sixteen administrations, 
representing all parties, and in all the fifty-three years 
he never received a reproof or a criticism of his work. 

He had an old-fashioned sense of honor. In 1826 he 
was called on to pay a note for $68,000 which he had 
indorsed. Although advised that he could not be held 
legally, he said that his name was there and he would 
stand by it. He placed a mortgage on his property, and it 
was twenty-two years before he had made good the loss, 
which, principal and interest, amounted to over $100,000. 
But for this endorsement he would have died, for that 
time, a wealthy man. Colonel North was a country-bred 
man, strong, quiet and almost painfully modest. He 
lacked Whitney's education and influence, but like him 
he represented the best which American mechanical and 
business life has produced. 


The city of Hartford has been more closely identified 
with the later development of interchangeable manufac- 
ture than almost any other city. The gun makers have 
been so vital an element in its industrial life that, before 
leaving them, we will trace their influence. 

The grist and saw mills, always the pioneers, had 
made their appearance in the seventeenth century. With 
recurring attempts at silk manufacture, most of the 
meager industrial life was directed toward some branch 
of textiles up to and even after 1800. 

In 1747 Col. Joseph Pitkin started a prosperous forge 
for making bar iron and a mill for iron slitting. It 
was killed by the Act of Parliament of 1750, already 
referred to, but the Pitkin family balanced the account 
by using the buildings during the Revolution to make 
powder for the Continental army. Later the buildings 
were put to their original use. The Pitkins were indus- 
trial leaders for many years in textiles, and in the manu- 
facture of silverware, clocks, watches, and heating 
apparatus. Henry and James F. Pitkin made the old 
''American lever" watches in 1834, and many of the 
early workmen who went to Waltham were trained by 

The assessors' returns for 1846 to the Secretary of 
State gave for Hartford only three "machine factories" 
with a total capital of $25,000, an annual output of 
$35,000, and forty-five men employed. There were two 

Figure 31. Samuel Colt 


boiler shops, a screw factory, a plow factory, a pin fac- 
tory, two brass and four iron foundries, and one poor 
gun maker who did a business of $625 a year. Taken 
together, these enterprises averaged only about $15,000 
in capital, $20,000 in annual output and fifteen employees 
each. This is hardly more than would be expected in 
any town of its size, and certainly does not mark the 
city as a manufacturing center. Book publishing 
employed over twice, and clothing shops more than four 
times, as many men as all the machine shops together. 

In 1821 Alpheus and Truman Hanks purchased a small 
foundry and began the business which later became 
Woodruif & Beach. This firm had a long and successful 
career in building heavy machinery, engines and boilers, 
and was among the earliest makers of iron plows. In 
1871 it became H. B. Beach & Son, boiler makers, and 
the firm is still running, H. L. Beach being now (1914) 
the only survivor of the old works. 

In 1834 Levi Lincoln started the Phoenix Iron Works. 
Under various names (George S. Lincoln & Company, 
Charles L. Lincoln & Company, The Lincoln Company, 
The Taylor & Fenn Company) the business has been 
maintained by his descendants to this day. Levi Lin- 
coln invented a number of machines, among them the 
first successful hook-and-eye machine for Henry North 
of New Britain, which became very valuable and helped 
to lay the foundation of the prosperity of that town. 
George S. Lincoln & Company built machine tools, archi- 
tectural iron work and vaults. Their name is perma- 
nently associated with the ** Lincoln" miller, which was 
first built in 1855 in their shop for the new Colt Armory, 
from the design of F. A. Pratt. It was an adaptation 
and improvement of a Bobbins & Lawrence miller which 
had been brought to Hartford a year or two before. Few 
machines have changed so little or have been used so 


widely. It has been said that more than 150,000 of them 
have been built in this country and abroad. Even in 
Europe, the type is definitely known by this name. 

The building of the Colt Armory in 1853 to 1854 marks 
a definite era in Hartford's history and the beginning 
of manufacturing there on a large scale. Samuel Colt 
had an adventurous life, and died in the midst of his 
success while less than fifty years old. Born in Hart- 
ford in 1814, he had a rather stormy career as a school- 
boy and shipped before the mast to Calcutta before he 
was sixteen. After his return from this voyage, he 
worked for some months in his father's dye works at 
Ware, Mass., where he got a smattering of chemistry. 
At eighteen he started out again, this time as a lecturer 
under the name of ''Dr. Coult," giving demonstra- 
tions of nitrous-oxide, or laughing gas, which was little 
known to the public at that time. Dr. Coult 's ''lectures" 
were frankly popular, with a view more to laughter 
than the imparting of knowledge, but he was clever and 
a good advertiser. It is said that he gave laughing gas 
to more men, women and children than any other lec- 
turer since chemistry was first known. For three years 
he drifted over the country from Quebec to New Orleans, 
getting into all kinds of experiences, from administering 
gas for cholera when impressed into service on account 
of his assumed title, to fleeing the stage from big black- 
smiths who took laughing gas too seriously and actively. 

He made the first crude model of his revolver on his 
voyage to Calcutta and used the means derived from his 
"lectures" for developing the invention. In 1835 he 
went to England and took out his first patent there and 
on his return in 1836 he took out his first American 
patent. These covered a firearm with a rotating cylinder 
containing several chambers, to be discharged through 
a single barrel. The same year, 1836, he organized the 


Patent Fire Arms Company at Paterson, N. J., and tried 
to get the revolver adopted by the United States Govern- 
ment. In 1837 an army board reported "that from its 
complicated character, its liability to accident, and other 
reasons, this arm was entirely nnsuited to the general 
purposes of the service." 

Colt's first market was secured on the Texas frontier. 
His earliest revolvers are known as the Walker and 
Texas models, and the hold which he acquired with 
frontiersmen at that time has never been lost. The Semi- 
nole War in Florida gave Colt an opportunity to demon- 
strate the value of the revolver. In 184-0 two govern- 
ment boards gave it a qualified approbation and two 
small orders followed, one for one hundred and the other 
for sixty weapons. The pistols, however, were expensive, 
the sales small, and in 1842 the Paterson company failed 
and ceased business. 

In the next few years the tide turned. The superiority 
of the revolvers outstanding was creating a great 
demand. With the breaking out of the Mexican War 
in 1846 came two orders for 1000 pistols each, and from 
that time onward Colt's career was one of rapid and 
brilliant success. 

As his Paterson plant had closed, Colt had the first 
of the large government orders made at the Whitney 
Armory in New Haven, where he followed minutely 
every detail of their manufacture. The following year, 
1848, Colt moved to Hartford and for a few years rented 
a small building near the center of the city. With 
rapidly increasing business, larger quarters soon became 

In 1853 he began his new armory, shown in Fig. 32. 
South of the city on the river front, lay an extensive 
flat, overflowed at high water and consequently nearly 
valueless. He purchased a large tract of this, built a 


protective dike 30 feet high and 1% miles long, and 
drained it. His armory built on this site marks an epoch 
not only in the history of Hartford, but in American 

After the failure of his first venture at Paterson, 
Colt had seen the advantage of interchangeable manu- 
facture at the Whitney shop, and determined to carry 
it even further in his new plant. So thoroughly was this 
done that the methods crystallized there, and many of the 
tools installed have undergone little change to this day. 
Machine work almost wholly superseded hand work. 
Modern machines were developed, and interchangeabil- 
ity and standards of accuracy given an entirely new 

The building was in the form of an * ' H, " 500 feet long 
and 3y2 stories high. It contained over 1400 machines, 
the greater part of which were designed and built on 
the premises. The tools and fixtures cost about as much 
as the machines themselves, a proportion unheard of 
before. In 1861 the plant was doubled. Three years 
later the first building was burned to the ground, but 
was immediately rebuilt. This plant was the largest 
private armory in the world and far-and-away the best 
then existing for economical and accurate production of 
a high-grade output. Many rivals have sprung up in 
the past sixty years, but the Colt Armory is still one of 
the leading gun factories of the world. 

Colonel Colt was a remarkable man, masterful, daring 
and brilliant. He started the larger industrial develop- 
ment of his city, and affected manufacturing methods 
more than any other man of his generation. 

One of the elements of his success was his ability to 
gather and hold about him men of the highest order. 
Among these was Elisha K. Root, one of the ablest 
mechanics New England has ever produced. Root was a 
































Massachusetts farmer's boy, a few years older than Colt. 
He served an apprenticeship, worked at Ware and at 
Chicopee Falls, and came to the Collins Company, axe 
makers, at Collinsville, Conn., in 1832. He began work 
there as a lathe hand in the repair shop, but very soon 
became foreman and virtual superintendent. His inven- 
tions and methods converted a primitive shop into a 
modern factory and gave the Collins Company control, 
for a long time, of the American market, and opened up 
a large export trade. In 1845 he was made superintend- 
ent, and that same year was offered three important 
positions elsewhere, one of them that of master armorer 
at Springfield. 

In 1849 Colt offered him the position of superintend- 
ent at a large salary. It was characteristic of Colt that, 
although he was just starting and still in small rented 
quarters, he outbid three others to get the best superin- 
tendent in New England. Eoot moved to Hartford, 
designed and built the new armory and installed its 
machinery. Many of the machines devised by him at 
that time are still running, holding their own in accu- 
racy and economy of production with those of today. 
Almost every process used in the plant felt his influence. 
He invented the best form of drop hammer then in use, 
machines for boring, rifling, making cartridges, stock 
turning, splining, etc., and worked out the whole system 
of jigs, fixtures, tools and gauges. The credit for the 
revolver belongs to Colt; for the way they were made, 
mainly to Eoot. Fig. 33, a chucking lathe, and Fig. 34, a 
splining machine, are two of Mr. Root's machines which 
are still at work. When Colonel Colt died, Mr. Root 
became president of the company and continued until 
his death in 1865, receiving, it is said, the highest salary 
paid in the state of Connecticut. He was a mechanic 
and inventor of high order, a wise executive, and the 


success of the two companies he served was in a large 
measure due to him. He was quiet, thoughtful and 
modest. His influence went into flesh and blood as well 
as iron and steel, for under him have worked F. A. Pratt 
and Amos Whitney, Charles E. Billings and C. M. Spen- 
cer, George A. Fairfield, of the Hartford Machine Screw 
Company, William Mason and a host of others whom 
we cannot mention here. Like a parent, a superin- 
tendent may be judged, in some measure, by the 
children he rears, and few superintendents can show 
such a family. 

Within a few years after the building of the Colt 
Armory, manufacturing at Hartford had taken a definite 
character. From that day to this it has centered almost 
wholly on high-grade products, such as guns, sewing 
machines, typewriters, bicycles, automobiles and machine 
tools. Naturally, during the past generation, the skilled 
mechanics of the city have attracted many new and 
important industries, only indirectly connected with the 
armory, which we cannot consider here. 

In 1848 Christian Sharps invented his breech-loading 
rifle, and in 1851 a company was formed at Hartford to 
manufacture it. Richard S. Lawrence came from Wind- 
sor, Vt., as its master armorer, and is said to have 
brought with him the first miller used in the city. They 
did a large business for some years, but later moved to 
Bridgeport, and the plant was sold to the Weed Sewing 
Machine Company. C. E. Billings and George A. Fair- 
field, both **Colt men," were superintendents of this 
plant. When the Columbia bicycles were introduced, 
the Weed Sewing Machine Company made them for the 
Pope Manufacturing Company of Boston. Later this 
company bought the plant, and it became one of the 
greatest bicycle factories in the world. Of late years it 
has been used for the manufacture of automobiles. 

s ^ ^ 


Two great industries sprang up in the neighborhood 
of Hartford in the early days and had a vigorous life 
quite independent of it. We have noted that Levi Lin- 
coln contributed to the establishment of the hardware 
industry at New Britain. - Although New Britain is but 
a few miles from Hartford, its manufactures have moved 
in a distinctly different direction. In fact, by 1820 it 
had taken its character as a hardware manufacturing 
center. North & Shipman had begun making sleigh-bells, 
hooks and plated goods, and Lee was making buttons 
and saddlery hardware. In 1839 Henry E. Russell and 
Cornelius B. Erwin became active partners in Stanley, 
Russell & Company, the beginning of the Russell & 
Erwin Manufacturing Company. The Stanley Works 
and Landers, Frary & Clark had their beginnings in 
1842; P. & F. Corbin in 1848, and the Stanley Rule & 
Level Company in 1854. About the same time, Elnathan 
Peck, after a partnership with George Dewey and Henry 
Walter, sold out to J. B. Sargent, who later moved to 
New Haven. Mr. Peck also moved to New Haven and 
started what is now Peck Brothers. It is a remarkable 
ease of the localization of a great industry. These 
companies, all large and important, started within 
fifteen years in one small village of only a few thousand 

The other industry which started near Hartford but 
has developed separately is the manufacture of clocks. 
Early in the nineteenth century Eli Terry, first at Wind- 
sor, just north of Hartford, and later at what is now 
Thomaston, Conn., began using machinery in making 
wooden clocks, and by 1840 he had reduced the price for 
a movement from $50 to $5. About 1840 Chauncey 
Jerome, an apprentice of Terry's, introduced the one-day 
brass clock which could be made for less than fifty cents. 
In 1842 he shipped his first consignment to England. 


They were promptly confiscated at their invoice prices 
by the customs authorities for under-valuation. This 
was perfectly agreeable to Jerome, as it furnished him 
with a spot-cash buyer at full price, with no selling 
expenses. He therefore sent another and larger ship- 
ment, which shared the same fate. When a third still 
larger one arrived, the authorities withdrew from the 
clock business and let it in. The exports soon spread 
everywhere, and today Connecticut manufactures three- 
fifths of the clocks produced in the United States. 

Nearly all the great clock companies of Connecticut, 
like the New Haven, Seth Thomas and Waterbury com- 
panies, trace back directly or indirectly to Jerome and 



At least two of the superintendents of the Colt 
Armory should be mentioned — Prof. Charles B. Rich- 
ards and William Mason. 

Mr. Richards was not primarily a tool builder, but 
his contributions to mechanical engineering are too 
great to pass without notice. About 1860 he helped 
Charles T. Porter develop the design of the first high- 
speed steam engine, and in order to study the action of 
this engine he invented the Richards steam engine indi- 
cator. Indicators, more or less crude, had been in use 
from the time of Watt, but the Richards indicator was 
the first one accurate enough and delicate enough to 
meet the demands of modern engine practice; and its 
influence has been far-reaching. After a few years in 
New York as a consulting engineer, he was for many 
years in the Colt Armory as engineering superintendent 
under Mr. Root, and later was superintendent of the 
Southwark Foundry & Machine Company in Philadel- 
phia. In 1884 he became Professor of Mechanical Engi- 
neering at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale Uni- 
versity, where he remained for twenty-five years as the 
head of the mechanical engineering department. 

William Mason was another of those who helped make 
the Colt Armory what it was. He was a modest, kindly 
man, little known outside of his immediate associates, 
but of singular fertility in invention and almost unerr- 
ing mechanical judgment. He learned his trade with 


the Remington Arms Company at Ilion, N. Y., and after 
a long association with them he was for sixteen years 
superintendent of the Colt Armory. In 1885 he became 
master mechanic of the Winchester Repeating Arms 
Company of New Haven, and held that position until 
his death in 1913. He had granted to him more than 
125 patents, most of them in connection with arms and 
ammunition and tools for their manufacture, but they 
included many appliances for looms and weaving, steam 
pumps, and bridge work, and he assisted with the devel- 
opment of the Knowles steam pump and Knowles looms. 

Asa Cook, a brother-in-law of F. A. Pratt, was for 
years a foreman and contractor at Colt's. He was after- 
wards a designer and manufacturer of machinery for 
making wood screws, bolt machinery and many other 
types of tools. George A. Fairfield, another Colt fore- 
man, became superintendent of the Weed Sewing 
Machine factory and later president of the Hartford 
Machine Screw Company ; another workman, A. F. Cush- 
raan, of the Cushman Chuck Company, for many years 
manufactured lathe chucks. In fact, there is hardly a 
shop in Hartford which dates from the seventies and 
eighties which does not trace back in some way to the 
Colt Armory. Its influence is by no means confined to 
Hartford, for such men as Bullard and Gleason carried 
its standards and methods to other cities. 

Four of the Colt workmen formed two partnerships 
of wide influence: Charles E. Billings and Christopher 
M. Spencer, who organized the Billings & Spencer Com- 
pany, and Francis A. Pratt and Amos Whitney, of the 
Pratt & Whitney Company. 

Charles E. Billings was a Vermonter, who served his 
apprenticeship in the old Robbins & Lawrence shop at 
Windsor, Vt. When twenty-one, he came to Colt's, in 
1856, as a die sinker and tool maker and became their 


expert on the drop forging process. In 1862 he went to 
E. Remington & Sons, where he built up their forging 
plant, increasing its efficiency many times, saving $50,- 
000, it is said, by one improvement in frame forging 
alone. At the end of the war he returned to Hartford as 
the superintendent of the Weed Sewing Machine Com- 
pany, which had taken over the old Sharps Rifle Works, 
built by Robbins & Lawrence. For a short time in 1868 
Mr. Billings was at Amherst, Mass., associated with 
Spencer in the Roper Repeating Arms Company. The 
venture was not a success, and the next year, 1869, they 
came back to Hartford and formed the Billings & Spen- 
cer Company. This company has probably done more 
than any other for the art of drop forging, not only in 
developing the modern board drop hammer itself, but in 
extending the accuracy and application of the process. 
Mr. Billings was president of the American Society of 
Mechanical Engineers in 1895. 

Christopher M. Spencer was born at Manchester, 
Conn. He served his apprenticeship in the machine 
shops of the silk mills there from 1847 to 1849, and 
remained for several years as a journeyman machinist 
with Cheney Brothers. In 1853 he went to Rochester, 
N. Y., to learn something of the other kinds of machin- 
ery, working in a tool building shop and a locomotive 
shop. After some years at the Colt Armory he went 
back to Cheney Brothers and soon obtained his first 
patent for an automatic silk-winding machine. This was 
adopted by the Willimantic Linen Company, with some 
modifications made by Hezekiah Conant, and was the 
machine which Pratt & Whitney began manufacturing 
in their first rented room in Hartford. 

Mr. Spencer has had a passion for firearms from boy- 
hood. In 1860 he obtained a patent for the Spencer 
repeating rifle. The Civil War created a tremendous 


demand for it, and the Government ordered first 1000, 
then 10,000, and before the war was over it had pur- 
chased about 200,000. In 1862, while the first contracts 
were pending, Spencer saw President Lincoln at Wash- 
ington. He and Lincoln went down on the White House 
grounds with the new rifle, set up a board and shot at it. 
Lincoln enjoyed it like a schoolboy, and shot well, too. 
He tore his coat pocket in the process, but told Spencer 
not to worry over it, as he * * never had anything of value 
in it to lose." 

At the close of the war Spencer went to Amherst and 
was there first associated with C. E. Billings in the 
Roper Company, as we noted. A year later he joined in 
starting the Billings & Spencer Company and cooperated 
with him in the development of the drop hammer. 

A successful machine which Spencer invented for 
turning sewing machine spools suggested to Spencer the 
possibility of making metal screws automatically. The 
result was his invention of the automatic turret lathe. 
The importance of the blank cam cylinder, with its flat 
strips adjustable for various jobs, was wholly over- 
looked by his patent attorney, with the result that Spen- 
cer obtained no patent right on the most valuable feature 
in the whole machine. 

The importance of this invention can hardly be over- 
estimated. It ranks with Maudslay's slide-rest and the 
turret tool-holder, as it is an essential feature in all 
modern automatic lathes, both for bar-stock and chucking 

Assured of the success of the machine, Spencer with- 
drew from active connection with the Billings & Spencer 
Company in 1874, and in 1876, with George A. Fairfield, 
then superintendent of the Weed Sewing Machine Com- 
pany, and others, formed the Hartford Machine Screw 
Company, one of the most successful enterprises in the 


city. Unfortunately, Mr. Spencer withdrew in 1882 to 
manufacture a new repeating shotgun and rifle which he 
had invented. The gun was a success mechanically, but 
the Spencer Arms Company, which had been formed in 
1883 at Windsor, Conn., was a failure, and Mr. Spencer 
lost heavily. In his later years Mr. Spencer has returned 
to the field where he did his most brilliant work, auto- 
matic lathes. He represents the New England mechanic 
at his best, and his tireless and productive ingenuity 
has made a permanent impress on modem manufacturing 

Francis A. Pratt was bom at Woodstock, Vt. When 
he was eight years old his family moved to Lowell. He 
was a mechanic from boyhood but he had the good for- 
tune to be apprenticed as a machinist with Warren 
Aldrich, a good mechanic and a wise teacher. At twenty, 
Mr. Pratt went to Gloucester, N. J., where he was 
employed first as a journeyman, later as a contractor. 
In 1852 he came to the Colt shop, where he worked for 
two years. He then accepted the foremanship of the 
Phoenix Iron Works, which was run by Levi Lincoln and 
his two sons. 

Amos Whitney was born in Maine and moved to Law- 
rence, Mass., where he served his apprenticeship with 
the Essex Machine Company which built cotton machin- 
ery, locomotives and machine tools. He came from a 
family of mechanics. His father was a locksmith and 
machinist, his grandfather was an expert blacksmith, 
his great-grandfather was a small manufacturer of 
agricultural tools, and he is of the same family as Eli 
Whitney of New Haven, and Baxter D. Whitney, the 
veteran tool builder of Winchendon. In 1850 both he 
and his father were working at Colt*s factory at Hart- 
ford. In 1854 Amos Whitney joined Pratt in the Phoenix 
Iron Works, where they worked together for ten years, 


the former as a contractor, the latter as superintendent. 
Whitney was earning over eight dollars a day when he 
left Colt's and took up the new contract work which 
offered at the beginning only two dollars a day. 

Many of the shops of that generation were ''contract 
shops." The Colt Armory was run on that basis, at 
least in its manufacturing departments. Under this 
system the firm or company furnished all the materials, 
machinery, tools, shop room and supplies, while the 
workmen were employed by the contractor, their wages 
being paid by the firm but charged against the con- 
tractor's account. A better training for future manu- 
facturers could hardly be devised, and a surprising 
number of these old-time contractors have succeeded 
later in business for themselves. 

In the summer of 1860 Pratt and Whitney rented a 
small room and, in addition to their regular employ- 
ment, began doing work on their own account, i.e., manu- 
facturing the small winder for the Willimantic Linen 
Company. Mr. Whitney's father-in-law acted as pattern 
maker, millwright, bookkeeper and general utility man. 
The following February they were burned out, but were 
running again a month later in other quarters. Here they 
continued to spread from room to room until all avail- 
able space was outgrown. They succeeded from the 
very start, and at once became leaders and teachers of 
other mechanics, suggesters of new methods of work 
and of new means for its accomplishment. Both Pratt 
and Whitney were thoroughly familiar with gun manu- 
facture, and the business was hardly started when the 
outbreak of the Civil War gave them more than they 
could do. In 1862 they took into partnership Monroe 
Stannard of New Britain, each of the three contribut- 
ing $1200. Mr. Stannard took charge of the shop, as 
Pratt and Whitney were still with the Phoenix Iron 


Works. Within two years the business had increased 
to such an extent that they gave up their positions at 
the Phoenix works and in 1865 erected the first building 
on their present site. From $3600 in 1862 their net assets 
grew in four years to $75,000, and during the three 
years following that they earned and put back into the 
business more than $100,000. In 1869 the Pratt & Whit- 
ney Company was formed with a capital of $350,000, 
later increased to $500,000. In 1893 it was reorganized 
with a capitalization of $3,000,000. Since that time it has 
become a part of the Niles-Bement-Pond Company. 

Beginning with the manufacture of machine tools and 
tools for making guns and sewing machines, they have 
extended their lines until their catalog fills hundreds of 
pages. From their wide experience in interchangeable 
manufacture, it was natural that they should take a 
prominent part in developing the machinery for the 
manufacture of bicycles and typewriters, when, later, 
these were introduced. 

Soon after the Franco-Prussian War, an agent of the 
company visited Prussia and found the royal and pri- 
vate gun factories equipped with old and inferior 
machinery and the armories bare. Mr. Pratt was sent 
for, and returned to Hartford with orders from the Ger- 
man Government for $350,000 worth of gun machinery. 
During the next few years Mr. Pratt made no less than 
ten trips to Europe, taking orders aggregating over 
$2,000,000 worth of machinery. When the panic of 1873 
prostrated the industries of the United States, Pratt & 
Whitney had orders, mostly foreign, which kept them 
busy until 1875. Their equipment of the three royal 
armories of Spandau, Erfurt and Danzig resulted in an 
improvement in quality of output and a saving of 50 
per cent in wages. Pratt & Whitney's production of 
gun-making machinery alone has run into many millions 


of dollars, and there are few governments which have 
not at one time or another purchased from them. 

Pratt & Whitney from the start were leaders in estab- 
lishing standards, particularly in screw threads. Their 
gauges for pipe threads have for years been the stand- 
ard for the country. The troubles which arose from the 
lack of agreement of standard gauges and the growing 
demand for interchangeable bolts and nuts led to a 
demand on the company for a set of gauges upon which 
all could agree. 

In undertaking this work Pratt & Whitney examined 
their own standards of length with reference to gov- 
ernment and other standards in this country and abroad. 
The results were conflicting and very unsatisfactory. 
By different measurements the same bar would be 
reported as above and as below the standard length, 
and the investigation produced no results which could 
be used for a working basis. At length Prof. William A. 
Rogers of Harvard University, and George M. Bond, 
backed by the Pratt & Whitney Company, developed the 
Rogers-Bond comparator Tvith which they determined 
the length of the standard foot. When they began, the 
length of the yard and its subdivisions varied with the 
number of yardsticks. Professor Rogers' work was 
based on line measurement rather than the end measure- 
ment which had held sway from the time of Whitworth 
and which is now generally recognized to be inferior for 
final reference work. Professor Rogers went back of 
all the secondary standards to the Imperial Yard in 
London and the standard meter in the Archives at Paris. 
He obtained reliable transfers of these, and with the 
cooperation of the United States Coast Survey, the most 
delicate and exhaustive comparisons were made of the 
standard bars prepared by him for the use of the com- 
pany with the government standard yard designated 


** Bronze No. 11.** Many thousands of dollars and three 
years of time went into this work. 

The methods used and the results obtained were exam- 
ined and reported upon by a committee of the American 
Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the conclusion 
given in their report is as follows: 

The completion of the Rogers-Bond comparator marks a long 
stride in advance over any method hitherto in use for compari- 
son and subdivision of line-measure standards, combining, as it 
does, all the approved methods of former observers with others 
original with the designers. Comparisons can thus be checked 
thoroughly by different systems, so that the final result of the 
series may be relied on as being much nearer absolute accuracy 
than any hitherto produced. 

The calipering attachment to the comparator deserves special 
commendation, being simple in the extreme, and solving com- 
pletely the problem of end measurements within the limit of 
accuracy attainable in line reading, by means of the microscope 
with the micrometer eye-piece. The standard to which the end 
measurements are referred is not touched, and each measure- 
ment is referred back to the same zero, so that error from end 
wear does not enter into the problem. This attachment is in 
advance of all hitherto known methods of comparing end meas- 
ures, either with other end measures or with line standards, both 
as to rapidity of manipulation and accuracy of its readings, the 
strong point in its construction being that it refers all end 
measures to a carefully divided and investigated standard bar, 
which is not touched during its use, and cannot be in the slight- 
est degree injured by this service, thus giving convincing assur- 
ance that the measures and gauges produced by its use will be 
accurate and interchangeable. 

In the opinion of this committee, the degree of accuracy 
already attained is such that no future improvements can occa- 
sion changes sufficiently great to affect the practical usefulness 
of the magnitudes here determined, or the interchangeability of 


structures based upon them with those involving further refine- 

Prof. W. A. Rogers and Mr. George M. Bond are unquestion- 
ably entitled to great credit for the admirable manner in which 
they have solved the problem of exact and uniform measure- 
ment, while the enterprise of the Pratt & Whitney Company in 
bringing the whole matter into practical shape, is deserving of 
the thanks of the engineering community.^ 

The standards so obtained became the basis of the 
gauges which Pratt & Whitney have produced. 

In 1888 the company received its first order for Hotch- 
kiss revolving cannon, and for three- and six-pounders 
rapid-fire guns. They have made hundreds of these guns 
for the secondary batteries of war vessels. In 1895 
they brought out a one-pounder invented by E. G. Park- 
hurst, an expert mechanic, who had entered their 
employment as assistant superintendent in 1869 and 
later took charge of their gun department. 

For many years the Pratt & Whitney tool-room lathes 
were the standard for the country. Later their leader- 
ship was materially affected by the Hendey Machine 
Company of Torrington, Conn., who built a high grade 
tool-room lathe having the change-gear box which has 
since been applied to nearly all types of machine tools. 
The change-gear box is one of the important contribu- 
tions to tool building made in recent years. Among the 

1 Those interested may find detailed descriptions of the methods used 
and of the Rogers-Bond comparator in the following references: George 
M. Bond: Paper on "Standard Measurements," Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol, 
II, p. 80. George M. Bond: Paper on "A Standard Gauge System," 
Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol. Ill, p. 122. Beport of Committee on Standards 
and Gauges, Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol. IV, p. 21 (quoted above). W. A. 
Rogers: Paper, "On a Practical Solution of the Perfect Screw Prob- 
lem," Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol. V, p. 216. Two lectures delivered by George 
M. Bond before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, in 1884, on: 1. 
"Standards of Length and their Subdivision." 2. "Standards of Length 
as Applied to Gauge Dimensions. ' ' 


later developments introduced by Pratt & Whitney is 
the process of thread milling, and they have designed a 
full line of machines for this work. 

The Pratt & Whitney works, like the Colt Armory, has 
been a training school for successful tool builders. 
Worcester R. Warner and Ambrose Swasey were both 
foremen at Pratt & Whitney's and left there to go west, 
first to Chicago and then to Cleveland. Some account 
of these two men will be given in a later chapter. Pratt 
& Whitney have had a marked influence on tool build- 
ing in Cleveland, for, in addition to Warner and Swasey, 
E. C. Henn and Hakewessel of the National Acme 
Manufacturing Company who developed the multi- 
spindle automatic lathe, A. F. Foote of Foote, Burt & 
Company, and George C. Bardons of Bardons & Oliver, 
come from their shop. Johnston of Potter & Johnston, 
Pawtucket, was chief draftsman at Pratt & Whit- 
ney's; and J. N. Lapointe who later developed the 
broaching machine, Dudley Seymour of Chicago, Gleason 
of the Gleason Works in Rochester, E. P. Bullard of 
Bridgeport, and F. N. Gardner of Beloit, Wis., inventor 
of the Gardner grinder, were all workmen there. 

Mr. Gleason was also a workman in the Colt Armory. 
He went to Rochester in 1865 and the works which he 
developed form the most important tool building inter- 
est in western New York. There have been "a good 
many starts there in tool building and almost as many 
finishes." Mr. Gleason always said that but for the 
training and methods he had gained at Hartford he 
would have shared their fate. Like many others, his 
company began with a general line of machine tools but 
has come to specialize on one type of machine, bevel- 
gear cutters, of which they build a most refined type. 

E. P. Bullard, like Gleason, worked at both Colt's and 
Pratt & Whitney's. Later he formed a partnership 


with J. H. Prest and William Parsons, manufacturing 
millwork and *'all kinds of tools" in Hartford. In 
1866 he organized the Norwalk Iron Works Company of 
Norwalk, but afterwards withdrew and continued the 
business in Hartford. For a number of years Mr. Bul- 
lard was in the South and Middle West, at Athens, Ga., 
at Cincinnati, where he organized the machine tool 
department of Post & Company, and at Columbus, where 
he was superintendent of the Gill Car Works. In 1875 
he established a machinery business in Beekman Street, 
New York, under the firm name of Allis, Bullard & Com- 
pany. Mr. Allis withdrew in 1877 and the Bullard 
Machine Company was organized. Recognizing a 
demand for a high grade lathe he went to Bridgeport, 
Conn., and engaged A. D. Laws to manufacture lathes 
of his design, agreeing to take his entire output. In the 
latter part of the same year Mr. Bullard took over the 
business and it became the Bridgeport Machine Tool 
Works. In 1883 he designed his first vertical boring 
and turning mill, a single head, belt feed machine of 37 
inches capacity. This is believed to be the first small bor- 
ing machine designed to do the accurate work previously 
performed on the face plate of a lathe. Up to that time 
boring machines were relied on only for large and rough 
work. In 1889 he transferred his New York connections 
to J. J. McCabe and gave his entire attention to manu- 
facturing, the business being incorporated as the Bullard 
Machine Tool Company in 1894. 

The building of boring mills gradually crowded out 
the lathes, and for twenty years the company has con- 
centrated on the boring machine as a specialty. In 
their hands it has received a remarkable development. 
They introduced a range of small-sized mills capable of 
much more accurate work than had been done on this 
type of machine. They applied the turret principle to 


the head carried on the cross rail and a few years later 
introduced a mill having a head carried on the side of 
the frame which permitted of the close working of the 
tools. These improvements transformed the boring mill 
into a manufacturing machine, and it became practically 
a vertical turret lathe with the advantages inherent in 
that type of machine. This trend toward the lathe type 
has finally resulted in a multiple station-type of machine 
which is in effect a vertical multi-spindle automatic 
chucking lathe with five independent tool heads, as shown 
in Fig. 56. Comparison of this with Fig. 15, shows how 
the lathe has developed in the 115 years since Maudslay 
introduced the slide-rest principle and the lead screw. 


A glance at the genealogical chart, Fig. 37, will show 
why the old Bobbins & Lawrence shop, at Windsor, Vt., 
in the backwoods of northern New England, deserves a 
special chapter. When built, it was miles away from a 
railroad. It was never large, and the wheels of the origi- 
nal shop have long since ceased to turn, but few plants 
have had so great an influence on American manufac- 
turing. Three brilliant mechanics, Lawrence, Howe and 
Stone, were working there in the early fifties, and from 
them and their successors came wholly, or in part, the 
vertical lathe turret, the miller, the profiler and a large 
number of the modern machines used in interchangeable 
manufacture. Of these three, Lawrence went to Hart- 
ford, Howe to Providence, while Stone remained at 
AVindsor. In each case an important line of influence 
may be traced. 

In the region about Windsor, sixty or seventy years 
ago, there were a number of small custom gun shops, and 
one firm, N. Kendall & Company, was regularly making 
guns at the AVindsor prison, using prison labor in addi- 
tion to that of a number of free mechanics, who did the 
finer work. The history of the Robbins & Lawrence 
Company begins about 1838, when Lawrence came to 
Windsor from the neighborhood of Watertown, N. Y. 
Fortunately he wrote out an account of his life shortly 
before his death, at the request of his son, giving a very 
interesting record of his early work and his connections 







0^ 4U.' 


<: is 












bJ 1 














with his various manufacturing enterprises. This 
account shows clearly the integrity, modesty and worth 
of the man.^ 

Richard S. Lawrence, whose portrait appears in Fig. 
40, was born in Chester, Vt., in 1817. When two years 
old, his father moved to Jefferson County, N. Y., and his 
boyhood was spent in the neighborhood of Watertown. 
He was only nine years old when his father died, and 
consequently he had a hard boyhood, with very little 
schooling, and was early at work in the support of the 
family. He worked on a farm and later in a woodwork- 
ing shop, making carpenter's and joiner's tools. In the 
basement of this place was a custom gun shop, where 
he spent much of his spare time and became an expert 
gun maker. He worked with indifferent success at vari- 
ous jobs until the winter of 1837-1838, when he served in 
the United States army for three months, guarding the 
frontier during the Canadian Rebellion. At his discharge 
he determined to start in elsewhere for himself and 
thought of his relatives in Vermont. After a long jour- 
ney by the Erie Canal, the newly built Albany & Schenec- 
tady Railroad, and by stage, he reached "Windsor in 1838. 

A week or two after his arrival, while visiting a Doctor 
Story, he undertook to repair an old rifle, a '^ Turkey 
rifle," made by the doctor's brother in a gun shop in the 
neighborhood, and put on a peep-sight, a thing never 
heard of before in that neighborhood. He took the gun 
apart, leaded out the barrel, forged and finished the sight 
and put it on the gun. His skill in handling tools 
astonished those who watched him. Two days later, 
when the work was done, the doctor and Lawrence went 
out to try the gun. They paced off twelve rods from a 
maple tree which had a three-quarter-inch auger hole in 

1 By the courtesy of Mr, Ned Lawrence this account is given in Appen- 
dix A. It has never been published before. 


it that had been used for a sap spout. Lawrence did the 
shooting. His own account of it is as follows : ' * The doc- 
tor tended target. Could find no ball hole. Said I missed 
the tree. I fired again, no ball hole to be found. Doctor 
came up to me and said I had spoiled his rifle. Before 
my repairs he could kill a chicken every time at twelve 
rods. I said, 'Uncle, I am very sorry, but I will make 
the gun all right before I leave it.' He said he could 
not consent to my doing anything more to improve the 
shooting qualities — the sight he liked very much. I 
said that as the gun was loaded I would take one more 
shot and see if I could not hit the tree. After the third 
shot I went up to the tree to investigate, and all of the 
three balls which I had fired were found in the auger 
hole.'" The doctor was astonished, for he had never 
heard of such shooting. 

The next day he took Lawrence down to see N. Kendall 
& Company, who were making guns at the Windsor 
prison. They hired him at once for two years at $100 
a year. His first work was stocking rifles by hand and 
the first day he put on five stocks. The next day the 
superintendent looked over the work and said it was well 
done, but it would never do to rush the work as he had, 
for he would ''soon gun-stock them out of town," and 
he **must take it more easy." In the course of the next 
six months, he had so far mastered every process in the 
factory, even that of engraving in which he could soon 
compete with the oldest hands, that he was put in charge 
of the shop. Four years later the company gave up the 
gun business, and for a time Lawrence remained as 
foreman of the carriage department in the prison shop. 

In 1843 Kendall and Lawrence hired a small shop in 
Windsor village and started a custom gun shop. In the 
winter of 1844 S. E. Bobbins, a business man, came to 

2 Quoted from the full account given in Appendix A. 


them and said that the Government was in the market 
for 10,000 rifles. The matter was talked over, a partner- 
ship formed, and a bid sent to Washington. In spite of 
the opposition of nearly all the other Government con- 
tractors, who said they could never do the work, it 
resulted in the award of a contract for 10,000 to Robbins, 
Kendall & Lawrence, at $10.90 each, attachments extra, 
to be furnished within three years. 

They bought land, built a shop, and bought or made 
the necessary machinery. It was in the performance of 
this and the subsequent contract that many of the early 
machine tools were developed. The contract was fin- 
ished eighteen months ahead of time, at a good profit, 
and they obtained a second contract for 15,000 at the 
same price. Soon after finishing the first contract, Rob- 
bins and Lawrence bought out Kendall's interest in the 
firm, which became Bobbins & Lawrence. The business 
proved very profitable. About 38 per cent of their work 
for the Government had to be rejected on account of 
poor material and workmanship, but the California gold 
excitement was then at its height and guns were in great 
demand. They were therefore able to sell their second- 
quality work for the full government price. About 1850 
they contracted with Courtland C. Palmer for 5000 Jen- 
nings rifles, a gun which later developed through the 
Henry rifle into the present well-known Winchester rifle. 

About 1850 Bobbins & Lawrence took the first of the 
steps which led to their undoing. The railroad had 
just been completed through Windsor, and S. F. Bel- 
knap, a large railroad contractor, induced them to start 
in the car business, which, of course, had no rational 
relation with their main activity of building guns. Mr. 
Belknap assured them that he could control all the car 
work in that section, and put in $20,000 as a silent part- 
ner. The firm went to a large outlay, but just as they 

2 X 



were finishing the first cars, Belknap quarreled with the 
president of the railroad and the firm could not sell a 
single car when they had expected to. After a consider- 
able delay they were sold to other roads, and stock which 
proved valueless was taken in payment. The opera- 
tion involved an actual loss of $134,000, which was later 
increased to nearly $240,000. 

In all of their gun work, Robbins & Lawrence used 
the interchangeable system, and they contributed very 
largely to its development. Lawrence, Howe, and later 
Stone, were constantly improving the methods of manu- 
facture. Fitch's article on Interchangeable Manufacture 
in the TJ. S. Census Report of 1880, describes and illus- 
trates a profiling machine built by Howe as early as 
1848. The design shown there was used for many years 
throughout all the gun shops in the country. He also 
designed a barrel drilling and rifling machine, and he and 
Lawrence designed and built a plain miller, which was 
the forerunner of the well-known Lincoln miller. One 
of these millers, built in 1853, is still running in the shop 
of the North Brothers Manufacturing Company in Phila- 
delphia. This machine had a rack-and-pinion feed for 
the table, which chattered badly when starting a heavy 
cut. The principal improvement which F. A. Pratt intro- 
duced in the Lincoln miller was the substitution for this 
of a screw and nut. The original drawing of this Rob- 
bins 8u Lawrence machine is still on file in the office of 
the Jones & Lamson Machine Company and shows 
clearly that it furnished the basis of the design of the 
Lincoln miller. 

In 1851 Robbins & Lawrence sent to the Exposition in 
London a set of rifles built on the interchangeable sys- 
tem, which excited great interest and for which they 
received a medal. This led to the visit of an English 
commission which resulted in a large contract to Robbins 


& Lawrence for Enfield rifles, and for gun machinery 
which was installed in the Armory at Enfield, near Lon- 
don. It has been said that this contract caused the 
failure of Bobbins & Lawrence. This is not true. 

In 1852 the company contracted to make 5000 Sharps 
carbines at Windsor, and 15,000 rifles and carbines at 
a plant which they were to erect in Hartford. The 
Sharps Company advanced $40,000 to enable them to 
build a new factory and Mr. Lawrence moved to Hart- 
ford in 1853 to superintend the building and equipment 
of the plant. Shortly after it was completed, Robbins & 
Lawrence, already strained by their losses in the car- 
building venture and with the erecting of the new plant, 
undertook a contract with Fox, Henderson & Company 
for 25,000 Minie rifles. They were assured by the agent 
that he had in his pockets contracts for 300,000 more, 
which he promised them on the completion of the 25,000. 
Lawrence objected strenuously to signing the contract 
for the 25,000 without more assurance as to the 300,000 
to follow, as the outlay for the work would greatly exceed 
the profits on the first contract. It was signed, however, 
and it later developed that the agent had no authoriza- 
tion for the 300,000. It was this which caused the failure 
of Robbins & Lawrence. 

Mr. Lawrence left the firm and took charge of the new 
Hartford plant which had been bought by the Sharps 
Rifle Company. J. D. Alvord, one of the contractors at 
Hartford under Lawrence, later built the Wheeler & 
Wilson plant at Bridgeport. Robbins and others leased 
the Windsor shops and began the manufacture of sew- 
ing machines. In 1859 the plant and business were pur- 
chased by Lamson, Goodnow & Yale, who retained Henry 
D. Stone as their mechanical expert. During the Civil 
War the plant was given over entirely to the manufac- 
ture of army rifles, and the sewing-machine business was 


sold to Mr. White of the White Sewing Machine Com- 
pany of Cleveland, Ohio. 

In the early thirties Silas Lamson had begun manu- 
facturing scythe snaths in one of the hill towns of west- 
em Massachusetts. Up to that time the farmers had 
either used straight poles or those which happened natu- 
rally to have a convenient twist. Lamson conceived the 
idea of steaming the poles and bending them to a prede- 
termined curve. About 1840 his sons, Nathan and E. G. 
Lamson, moved to Shelburne Falls and after some years 
began the manufacture of cutlery, founding the factory 
which has been in successful operation ever since. After 
the completion of the railroad through Windsor, they 
moved their snath factory to that place. They and their 
successors, the Lamson & Goodnow Manufacturing Com- 
pany, continued this work there for many years. When 
the Eobbins & Lawrence property was put on the mar- 
ket it was purchased by E. G. Lamson, A. F. Goodnow 
and B. B. Yale, under the name of Lamson, Goodnow & 
Yale. E. G. Lamson & Company and the Windsor Manu- 
facturing Company succeeded this firm and continued 
the manufacture of machine tools and Ball and Palmer 
carbines, and completed a number of government rifle 
contracts. In 1869 R. L. Jones, a business man, of the 
Ascutney Mill at Windsor, joined the firm, which became 
Jones, Lamson & Company, and a small cotton mill was 
added to their other activities. Ten years later the 
Jones & Lamson Company was organized to take over 
the machine business. During all these changes Henry 
D. Stone continued as the designer. A large poster of 
the Windsor Manufacturing Company, printed some 
time about 1865, shows that they had plenty of irons in 
the fire, for they were prepared to furnish guns and 
machinery for manufacturing guns, sewing machines and 
needles, a standard line of hand-operated turret lathes, 


plain and index millers, planers, trimming presses, drill 
presses, sawmills, rock drills and mining machinery. 
Later their mining and quarry-machinery business was 
moved to Claremont, N. H., and became the Sullivan 
Machinery Company. 

In 1889 the present Jones & Lamson Machine Com- 
pany moved to Springfield, Vt., where it now is. That 
same year, James Hartness entered the employment of 
the company as superintendent. With his advent the 
scattering of activities ceased and the Jones & Lamson 
Machine Company began concentrating on turret lathes, 
which Bobbins & Lawrence and their various successors 
have been manufacturing continuously since the early 
fifties. A number of the old mechanics and foremen, 
who had homes in Windsor at the time the company was 
moving to Springfield, took over the old shops and 
organized the present Windsor Machine Company which 
now manufactures the Gridley Automatic Lathes. 

This, briefly, is the history of the old Bobbins & 
Lawrence shop. The men, however, who worked with 
Bobbins & Lawrence and its successors, are of greater 

While Lawrence continued as master-armorer of the 
Sharps Bifle Works, the company was successful finan- 
cially. Fitch, in the Census article frequently referred 
to, says that he brought with him ''from Windsor the 
first plain milling machine used in Hartford." Law- 
rence also applied the broaching process to the manu- 
facture of Sharps rifles, effecting great economies, and 
was the inventor of the split pulley which was first made 
for him at Lincoln's Phoenix Iron Works. In the winter 
of 1850 Lawrence introduced the practice of lubricating 
rifle bullets with tallow, making possible the repeating 
rifle which had been a failure up to that time as the 
barrel "leaded" and the gun lost its accuracy. This was 


done in connection with some trials of the Jennings rifle 
during the visit of Louis Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, 
who was in this country for the supposed purpose of pur- 
chasing rifles.^ Mr. Lawrence left the Sharps company 
in 1872 and was for many years an official in the city of 
Hartford, as Superintendent of Streets and on the Water 
and Fire Boards. He died in 1892. 

The Sharps Rifle Works, after Lawrence's retirement, 
were bought by the Weed Sewing Machine Company, 
and later by the Pope Manufacturing Company, who 
extended it greatly for the manufacture of the Columbia 

Frederick W. Howe, the second of the Bobbins & Law- 
rence mechanics mentioned, whose portrait appears in 
Fig. 39, learned his trade in the old Gay & Silver shop at 
North Chelmsford. We have seen in a previous chapter 
the connection of this company, through Ira Gay, with 
the early mechanics at Pawtucket. It is an interesting 
and perhaps significant fact that both milling machines 
and turret lathes were in use in this shop, probably at the 
time when Howe worked there. Howe was first a drafts- 
man and later superintendent at Windsor and was inti- 
mately associated with the designing there at that time. 
The Jones & Lamson Machine Company still have draw- 
ings of machine tools made by him as early as 1848. 
As both Lawrence and Howe were designing in the 
Windsor shop at that period, it is difficult today to 
apportion the credit between them. 

When Robbins & Lawrence failed, Howe went to 
Providence as superintendent of the Providence Tool 
Company and his work there contributed greatly to the 
success of that firm. While with both Bobbins & Law- 
rence and the Providence Tool Company, he worked on 
the turret-head screw machine and the plain miller. 

* See Appendix B. 


The first screw machine brought out by Brown & 
Sharpe in 1861 was built for Mr. Howe. Joseph R. 
Brown added certain valuable features to it, but the 
parts for the first machine were said to have been cast 
from Howe's patterns. Howe invented and built a uni- 
versal milling machine,* but it should not be confused 
with what is now known as the ** universal" miller, which 
was first built by Brown & Sharpe, also in 1861, for 
Mr. Howe to mill the flutes in twist drills. The dis- 
tinction between these two machines has been pointed 
out by Mr. Burlingame. The No. 12 plain miller which 
Brown & Sharpe build today was designed by Howe, 
and for many years was known as the ''Howe" type 
of miller. From 1868 to 1873 Mr. Howe was the super- 
intendent of Brown & Sharpe, and built the first build- 
ing on their present site. Later he started in business 
for himself as a consulting mechanical engineer and 
was designing a typewriter (which was never built) at 
the time of his death. He was a smoOth-faced, well- 
dressed man, with a restless inventive mind, apt to 
change things frequently, improving each time, however, 
and when he finished anything it was thoroughly done. 
He left a deep impress on mechanical development in 
this country, and while Lawrence was perhaps the best 
mechanic, Howe was probably the ablest of the three 
men connected with the early Bobbins & Lawrence 

Henry D. Stone was born in 1815 and died at Windsor 
in 1898. He learned his trade as a millwright at "Wood- 
stock, Vt., but soon afterward came to Bobbins & Law- 
rence. He remained with them and their successors for 
the rest of his career, more than thirty years. He has 
been very generally credited with the invention of the 

4 Illustrated in the American Machinist of August 13, 1914. See also 
p. 208. 



vertical turret as applied to the lathe, but the idea was by- 
no means original with him. In 1845 a horizontal turret 
was designed and built by Stephen Fitch at Middlefield, 
Conn., to manufacture percussion locks for the United 
States Government. This machine is illustrated in the 
American Machinist of May 24, 1900. It had a hori- 
zontal axis with eight positions for as many tools. In 
the same magazine for November 28, 1908, two turret 
lathes are illustrated and described, one with a vertical 
and the other with a horizontal turret, both of which 
were in use in the Gay & Silver shop at an early date, 
probably in the forties, at the time Howe was there as 
an apprentice. The horizontal turret principle was also 
in use by E. K. Root at the Colt Armory ,° and J. D. 
Alvord is said to have used a turret screw machine in 
the Hartford plant in 1853. There is little doubt that 
both Howe and Lawrence had something to do with the 
development of the turret lathe at Windsor. The turret 
designs which Howe had built for him a few years later 
in Providence are all along the same lines. Stone 
unquestionably had a share in the development of the 
turret, for he made the drawing of the first Bobbins & 
Lawrence turret machines and continued for many years 
the development of the turret lathe for the various 
companies which successively operated in Windsor. 
With the turret screw machine came the box-tool and 
hollow mill. Machinery of May, 1912, illustrated and 
described a box-tool, fitted with two back rests and two 
cutting tools, which was made by Bobbins & Lawrence 
at Windsor in 1850. 

The second period in the history of this company, or 
succession of companies, begins with the coming of 
James Hartness to the Jones & Lamson Machine Com- 

8 See Fig. 33. See also the valuable article by E. G. Parkhurst in the 
American Machinist, of May 24, 1900, p. 489, referred to above. 


pany in 1889. Mr. Hartness was bom in Schenectady 
in 1861 and learned his trade by ''picking it up," first 
with Younglove, Massey & Company, of Cleveland, 
where his father was superintendent, and then in the 
machine shop of the Union Steel Screw Works. In the 
latter shop he first came in contact with close, accurate 
work. The practice of this company was due to Jason 
A. Bidwell, who came from the American Screw Com- 
pany, in Providence, which we have referred to in a 
previous chapter. Three years later Mr. Hartness went 
to the Lake Erie Iron Works as tool maker. In 1882 
he went to Winsted, Conn., as foreman in the Thomson, 
Stacker Bolt Company, and in 1885 to the Union Hard- 
ware Company of Torrington, manufacturers of gun 
implements, first as tool maker, then foreman, and later 
as inventor. During the year 1888 he worked for a few 
months at the Pratt & Whitney shop in Hartford, at 
Scottdale, Pa., and with the Eaton, Cole & Bumham 
Company, in Bridgeport. He went to the Jones & 
Lamson Machine Company in February, 1889, the year 
in which they moved to their present location at Spring- 
field, Vt. He was first superintendent until 1893, then 
manager until 1900, and president from then on. 

During these years Mr. Hartness has become one of 
the most influential designers of machine tools of this 
generation and in 1914 he was president of the Ameri- 
can Society of Mechanical Engineers. When he went 
to Windsor, the Jones & Lamson Machine Company was 
manufacturing principally a standard type of high-tur- 
ret lathe, lever-operated, with power feed and back 
gears. Mr. Hartness immediately began an investiga- 
tion of the problem which resulted in the invention of 
the Hartness flat-turret lathe and many improvements 
in the details of the tools used on it. While Mr. Hart- 
ness was developing certain details of the turret con- 

Figure 41. James Hartness 


stniction, lie found in the records of the company- 
sketches of the identical mechanism, made by Howe 
nearly forty years before, which show not only that 
Howe was engaged in turret-lathe design but that he was 
a generation ahead of his time. 

Under Mr. Hartness* management, the Jones & Lam- 
son Machine Company have concentrated on a single 
design of machine which they have developed to the 
utmost. Eather than be diverted from this single object, 
he has, as new inventions have come up, helped others 
to develop them independently. The result has been that 
while the Jones & Lamson Machine Company, with one 
exception, has confined its attention to flat-turret lathes, 
a number of important machines, which have sprung 
from men connected with that company, are now being 
manufactured by other firms. 

The Fellows gear shaper is one of these machines. 
Mr. Fellows ' career is a problem to those who are inter- 
ested in the training of mechanics. He was a window 
dresser in a dry goods store in Torrington and also ran 
the carpet department. When Mr. Hartness came to 
Springfield, Mr. Fellows, then twenty-two years old, 
came with him. Without any previous mechanical train- 
ing or technical education he worked for one week in the 
shop, slotting screw heads, and then went into the draw- 
ing room. He succeeded so well here that in a short 
time he was chief draftsman. In 1896 he invented his 
gear shaper, the Fellows Gear Shaper Company was 
organized, and has been in successful operation ever 
since. As the theory underlying this invention is of a 
very refined order and the problems involved in its 
manufacture have been worked out with great skill, one 
would expect it to be the product of long experience and 
high technical training. That Mr. Fellows should have 
brought out so refined a machine within a few years from 


the time he first turned his attention to mechanical mat- 
ters is a remarkable tribute to his qualities as a machine 

Mr. George 0. Gridley is another mechanic who 
worked under Mr. Hartness at Springfield. He devel- 
oped the single- and later the multi-spindle auto- 
matic lathes which are now manufactured by the 
Windsor Machine Company in the new plant which has 
been built near the old Robbins & Lawrence shop at 
Windsor. The original plant of the fifties is now used 
as a club house for the men. 

The Lo-Swing lathe, manufactured by the Fitchburg 
Machine Works at Fitchburg, was invented by Mr. 
Hartness. The Fitchburg Machine Works was founded 
in the early sixties by Sylvester C. Wright, who came 
from the Putnam Machine Works. For many years they 
manufactured a general line of machine tools, but they 
now confine their attention entirely to the Lo-Swing 

The Bryant chucking grinder, invented by William L. 
Bryant, is another machine which has sprung from the 
Jones & Lamson shop of recent years. It is manufac- 
tured by a separate company, the Bryant Chucking 
Grinder Company, also at Springfield, Vt. The Fay 
automatic lathe, now manufactured by Jones & Lamson 
Company, is the exception to their policy of concentra- 
tion on the flat turret. Like the Lo-Swing, it is intended 
for work which cannot be done on the flat-turret lathe, 
more particularly such pieces as are carried on man- 
drels. The cutting tools are controlled by cams and a 
cam drum. Like the Lo-Swing, it is intended to supple- 
ment the field of the turret lathe and to give the advan- 
tage of multiple tools, constant setting, and automatic 
operation for work which could not be put upon a turret 


We have followed the four main lines of influence 
from the old shop at Windsor; one, through Lawrence, 
to Hartford; one, through Howe, to Providence; one, 
through Stone and later Gridley, at Windsor; and the 
fourth, through Hartness and the Jones & Lamson 
Machine Company to Springfield. Another line of influ- 
ence comes through Charles E. Billings, who learned his 
trade under Bobbins & Lawrence, went to the Colt 
Armory, and as we have seen elsewhere, founded the 
Billings & Spencer Company. Like Mr. Hartness, he 
also has been a president of the American Society of 
Mechanical Engineers. There are other lines of influ- 
ence in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere which we 
cannot follow out here, 



Two companies, both in New England, have been con- 
spicuous for their leadership in tool building and the 
introduction of precision methods in manufacture. One 
of them, the Pratt & Whitney Company, we have con- 
sidered. The other, the Brown & Sharpe Manufactur- 
ing Company, of Providence, calls also for special 

It was founded in 1833 by David Brown and his son 
Joseph R. Brown.^ For nearly twenty years its busi- 
ness comprised the making and repairing of clocks, 
watches and mathematical instruments, in a small shop 
without power. Its influence was hardly more than local 
and only fourteen persons were employed in 1853, when 
Lucian Sharpe was taken into the partnership, and the 
fii-m became J. R. Brown & Sharpe.^ 

The real development of the business had begun a 
few years before. In 1850 J. R. Brown had invented 
and built a linear dividing engine which was, so far as 
is known, the first automatic machine for graduating 
rules used in the United States. It was fully automatic, 
adapted to a wide variety of work, and provided with 
devices for correcting the inaccuracies of the machine 
as built, and such as might develop on account of wear. 

1 David Brown retired in 1841. For the early history of David and 
Joseph E. Brown see Van Slyck: "Representative Men of New England." 

2 The writer would acknowledge his indebtedness to Mr. L. D. Burlin- 
game for much of the material in this chapter. 

Figure 42. Joseph R. Brown 


Various improvements were made in this machine within 
the next few years and two more were built, one in 1854 
and one in 1859, essentially like it. These three machines 
are in use today and doing work which meets modern 
requirements of accuracy. 

Soon after the first graduating machine was put into 
use, the vernier caliper, reading to thousandths of an 
inch, was brought out by Mr. Brown ; the first was made 
as early as 1851. In the following year he applied the 
vernier to protractors. A writer, in speaking of the 
invention of the vernier caliper, says, "It was the first 
practical tool for exact measurements which could be 
sold in any country at a price within the reach of the 
ordinary machinist, and its importance in the attainment 
of accuracy for fine work can hardly be overestimated.** 
The introduction of the vernier caliper was slow, only 
four being made in the first year. In 1852 Mr. Brown 
asked the New York agents to return one which they had 
on exhibition because he needed it for some fine work 
and did not have another in the shop. Within a year 
or two the sales improved, for Mr. Sharpe wrote his 
agent at Newark, N. J., in 1854, that it could not be 
expected there would be a market for many more tools 
in that neighborhood, as $500 worth had already been 
sold there. 

Mr. Brown did not have the market long, for in 1852 
Samuel Darling also invented and built a graduating 
engine and began the manufacture of rules and squares 
at Bangor, Maine. Mr. Darling had been a farmer and 
sawmill owner, with a strong bent for mechanics. He 
had gone to work in a machine shop six years before 
and almost from the first had given his attention to 
improvements in machinists* tools. His first partner 
was Edward H. Bailey, but after a year a new partner- 
ship was formed with Michael Schwartz, a saw maker 


and hardware dealer of Bangor. They soon became 
active competitors of J. R. Brown & Sharpe, and to 
this day mechanics here and there have scales marked 
**D. & S., Bangor, Me." Competition between the two 
firms, both in prices and quality of work, became so keen 
that a truce was called in 1866, resulting in the formation 
of the partnership of Darling, Brown & Sharpe, which 
conducted this part of the business until 1892, when 
Darling's interest was bought out. The entire business 
was soon after conducted under the name The Brown 
& Sharpe Manufacturing Company, the original firm 
of J. R. Brown & Sharpe having been incorporated under 
that name in 1868. 

In the spring of 1868 Mr. Darling moved to Provi- 
dence, bringing with him his graduating engine, machin- 
ery and six of his most experienced workmen. Darling's 
engine was built along radically different lines from 
Brown's, an interesting feature being that many of its 
parts were made of saw-stock, which he also used as 
the material for his scales and squares. His machines 
and processes had been kept secret, and it was not until 
after the partnership was formed that Mr. Brown had 
opportunity of seeing them at Bangor. Mr. Darling's 
original dividing machine is also still running at the 
Brown & Sharpe works, having been operated for over 
fifty years by John E. Hall, who remembers the time 
when Mr. Darling first brought his new partners to see it. 

Both J. R. Brown & Sharpe and Mr. Darling had had 
their standards compared with those at Washington 
prior to the formation of the partnership. Standards 
of a still higher degree of accuracy were prepared about 
1877, and the following is quoted from a letter to J. E. 
Hilgard, of the Coast Survey Office, Washington, regard- 
ing the metric standard in use by the Brown & Sharpe 
Manufacturing Company at that time: 


Taking 39.370 as the standard, there is only 0.00023 in. in 
the meter difference in our comparison, which perhaps is as 
close as may be expected. We shall now consider your com- 
parison of our steel bar with the standard at Washington as 
correct, and in our comparisons with it shall be able to detect 
errors as small as 0.000025 in. 

Still later and more accurate standards were made 
by Oscar J. Beale in 1893.' 

The early business of J. R. Brown & Sharpe con- 
nected them closely with the various standards then in 
use for measuring wire, sheet metal, and the like. Mr. 
Sharpe was impressed with the irregularity and con- 
fusion of these various gauges, so that after he became 
Mr. Brown's partner, he interested himself in the estab- 
lishment of a more systematic standard for wire gauges. 
In 1855 he corresponded with various people in regard 
to gauges for clock springs. By January of 1856 the 
wire gauge with a regular progression of sizes had been 
conceived, and a month later a table of sizes was made. 
The new system was laid before the Waterbury Brass 
Association by Mr. Sharpe, and in November of that 
year fifty gauges were sent to William Brown, president 
of the Association, for inspection by the members to 
show them the uniformity in size which could be main- 
tained in making a number of gauges. 

The Association passed resolutions adopting this 
standard, and in February, 1857, eight of the leading 
American manufacturers signed these resolutions. The 
new gauge, introduced to the public through a circular 
sent out in March of that year, became the standard, 
since known as the American Wire Gauge. 

The subject of accurate gearing came up in connec- 
tion with the clock business then conducted by J. R. 

s American Machinist, Vol. XXXVI, p. 1025. 


Brown & Sharpe. There were also cails for gears to be 
cut which were beyond the capacity of the machine they 
then had for such work. This led to the design and 
building of a precision gear cutter, not only to produce 
accurate gears, but also to drill index plates and do 
circular graduating. 

The second of the linear dividing engines, built m 
1854, had a graduated silver ring set into the dividing 
wheel. This ring was graduated at the office of the 
Coast Survey in Washington by William Wurdeman on 
a machine having an index wheel with 4320 graduations 
copied from the plate of the Troughton & Simms 
machine in London. Mr. Brown went to Washington to 
see the work done and was so well satisfied with it that 
he arranged with Mr. Wurdeman to graduate the copper 
ring used in the precision gear cutter which was built 
in 1855. Patrick Harlow, who operated this machine 
from about 1860 to 1910, says that it was Mr. Brown's 
special pride, that it was given the honor and care due 
a precision machine, was located in a room by itself and 
carefully covered every night to protect it from injury. 
Long after it was supplanted by automatic gear cutters, 
it was used for index drilling. 

The formed milling cutter, which retains accurately 
the contour of its cutting edge through successive sharp- 
enings, was invented in 1864 by J. E. Brown with special 
reference to the cutting of gear teeth. In fact, the oldest 
milling cutter known was used for cutting gear teeth. 
This cutter was made some time prior to 1782 by the 
French mechanic Jacques de Vaucanson and came into 
the possession of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing 
Company about 1895. The teeth are very fine and appar- 
ently were cut with chisels. The hole in the center is 
octagonal and seems to have been broached. 

The formed cutters came as one of the important ele- 


ments in the system of interchangeable involute gears, 
introduced by Brown & Sharpe, based on the principles 
of Professor Willis. While they used both the involute 
and cycloidal systems, they threw the weight of their 
influence toward the former and were a strong factor 
in the general adoption of the involute form for cut 
gearing, as well as for the use of diametral pitch, which, 
as we have seen, was suggested by Bodmer in Manches- 
ter, England. 

Early in the Civil War the Providence Tool Company 
took up the manufacture of Springfield muskets for the 
Government. Frederick W. Howe, who had become 
superintendent of that company after leaving Bobbins 
& Lawrence, had been designing turret machines for a 
number of years, as we have seen. In order to equip 
the Tool Company for this work, and especially for 
making the nipples, he went to J. R. Brown & Sharpe 
and arranged with them to build a turret screw machine 
for this purpose. The general design of this machine 
was similar to those of Howe & Stone, and Mr. E. E. 
Lamson tells the writer that the castings for it were 
made at the Jones & Lamson shop in Windsor. J. R. 
Brown added the self -revolving turret, utilizing a ratchet 
and pawl action on the return motion of the slide, the 
device for releasing, feeding and gripping the bar-stock 
while in motion, and the reversing die holder. While 
Brown was the first to adapt these features to the Howe 
machine, the revolving feeding mechanism had been 
used before and Pratt & Whitney had begun the manu- 
facture of turret screw machines with self-revolving 
heads that same year, 1861.* 

This screw machine seems to have been the first 
machine tool built for sale by the Brown & Sharpe Com- 
pany. Various sizes of screw machines, of both hand 

*" Origin of the Turret," American Machinist, May 24, 1900, p. 489. 


and automatic types, were built by them during and 
since the Civil War. In the early eighties, S. L. Worsley 
developed for them the complete automatic screw 
machine, many features of which are still in use in the 
machines now being built. 

At the opening of the war plain milling machines had 
been in use for many years. The Lincoln miller had 
taken its present form and Howe had designed a miller 
with a vertically adjustable cutter-slide and a swiveling 
chuck which could be revolved, indexed and swiveled 
in two planes and fed longitudinally under the cutter.^ 
The statement by Fitch in the *' Report on the Manufac- 
ture of Interchangeable Mechanism" in the United 
States Census, 1880, that the ''universal miller" was 
designed by Howe in 1852, is doubtless based on this 
machine or a forerunner of it. The drawings of it, 
however, show a machine of radically different design 
from what is now known as the ''universal miller,** 
which was invented by Joseph R. Brown in 1861-1862, 
at Howe's suggestion. 

The Brown & Sharpe universal miller is indirectly 
connected vnth the-percussion nipple which brought about 
their first screw machine. The hole in this piece was 
drilled by twist drills which the Providence Tool Com- 
pany were making for themselves. One day Howe came 
into the shop and watched the workman filing the spiral 
grooves in tool-steel wire with a rat-tail file. He decided 
that the method was too expensive and consulted with 
Joseph R. Brown to find a better and more economical 
way of making them. 

Mr. Brown appreciated the need of a machine to do 
this work, especially as he was just beginning to use 
such drills himself in the manufacture of the Wilcox & 
Gibbs sewing machines. He set himself at once to the 

B Illustrated in the American Machinist, Aug. 13, 1914, pp. 296-297. 

Figure 43. First Universal Milling Machine 


task of developing a machine which would not only 
cut the grooves in twist drills, but would be suitable for 
many kinds of spiral milling, gear cutting, and other 
work which had up to that time required expensive hand 
operations. Little time was lost, and the first machine 
(Fig. 43) was built and sold to the Providence Tool 
Company, March 14, 1862. After passing through sev- 
eral hands it came back thirty years later into the pos- 
session of its builders and is now preserved by them for 
its historical interest. The first published account of 
the machine appeared in the Scientific American, Decem- 
ber 27, 1862. The limited facilities of the shop were 
taxed to meet the demand created, and ten machines 
were built and sold during the remainder of the year 
1862, most of the sales being in the eastern states. The 
first machine sold in the west went to the Elgin National 
Watch Company, and the first one sold abroad went to 

Howe never claimed to be the inventor of this 
machine, and, in fact, while still superintendent of the 
Providence Tool Company he wrote a testimonial to 
J. R. Brown & Sharpe, in which he said, ''I take great 
pleasure in recommending your celebrated universal 

Howe was connected with the Brown & Sharpe Com- 
pany from January 1, 1868, to about 1873. This is the 
last year that he appears in the directory as being at 
their works. There was some form of partnership by 
which he and Mr. McFarlane, the superintendent, had 
an interest in the business so that his name does not 
occur in its list of employees. The plain milling machine 
manufactured for years by Brown & Sharpe is his 
design, and his work was partly that of special design- 
ing and partly superintending the building of their new 
plant on the present site. They moved into this in 1872 


from their old wooden buildings. At that time they 
employed from 150 to 200 men. 

In the early sixties the company began the manufac- 
ture of the Wilcox & Gibbs sewing machine, which they 
have manufactured ever since. They used cylindrical 
and caliper gauges, including limit gauges, for this work. 
In 1865 a set of standards was made for John Richards, 
and cylindrical and limit gauges of various forms were 
regularly manufactured during the early seventies. For 
a long time the basis of accuracy for these was a set of 
Whitworth plugs and rings, which are still preserved 
among their archives. The sizes above the 2 inch are cast- 
iron, and commencing with the 2% inch they are hollow 
and ribbed. These were looked upon with reverence 
by the Brown & Sharpe workmen and were used as master 
gauges for the commercial plugs and rings. They found, 
however, that in trying the Whitworth plugs, say % inch 
and 114 inch into a 2 inch ring and then other combina- 
tions into the same ring, an appreciable variation in fit 
could be noticed. This led to consideration of means for 
obtaining greater accuracy than was possible with 
dependence on these Whitworth gauges. At the time the 
question arose Richmond Viall had just become super- 
intendent and Oscar J. Beale was chief inspector. It 
was decided to make a measuring machine which should 
be an original standard for measuring as well as a com- 
parator. This machine, built in 1878, was largely the 
work of Mr. Beale. It has a measuring wheel graduated 
to read to ten-thousandths of an inch and a vernier read- 
ing to hundred-thousandths. There is also an adjustment 
which reads even finer than the famous ''millionth divid- 
ing engine" of Whitworth. The basis of accuracy for 
the miscroscopic scale was a standard yard, which had 
been compared with the standards at Washington. 

The micrometer caliper was introduced by Brown & 


Sharpe in 1867. Although not the pioneers in the sense 
of being the inventors, they were the first to recognize 
the practical value of this tool for machinists, and to put 
it on the market. As in the case of the vernier caliper, the 
introduction of the micrometer caliper into everyday 
shopwork marked an important step in raising the 
standard of accuracy. 

The principle is very old. William Gascoigne, of 
Yorkshire, England, used it about 1637, moving two par- 
allel edges or pointers to and fro by means of a screw 
provided with a divided head. For two hundred years 
the principle has been used in controlling the movement 
of spider webs and cross hairs in transits and other opti- 
cal instruments. It is well known that Watt had one 
(now in the South Kensington Museum in London), and 
we have already mentioned the ''Lord Chancellor," used 
by Maudslay before 1830. R. Hoe & Company, of New 
York, in 1858, had a bench micrometer reading up to 9 
inches. But none of these could ever have influenced 
mechanical standards generally as did the strong, com- 
pact little instrument developed by Brown & Sharpe. 

The circumstances surrounding its introduction are as 
follows : In 1867 the Bridgeport Brass Company had a 
lot of sheet brass returned to them from the Union 
Metallic Cartridge Company as ' ' out of gauge. ' * Investi- 
gation showed that the sheets were to the gauge of the 
manufacturer, but that the gauge used by the customer 
did not agree, and, further, when both gauges were tested 
by a third, no two of them agreed. All three gauges were 
supposed to be the regular U. S. Standard, adopted by 
the wire manufacturers in 1857, of the well-known round, 
flat form, with slits for the various sizes cut in the cir- 
cumference. Gauges of this form were the best and 
most accurate method then known for measuring sheet 


S. E. Wilmot, then superintendent of the Bridgeport 
Brass Company, seeing that the difficulty was likely to 
occur again, devised the micrometer shown at A in Fig. 
44, and had six of them made by a skilled machinist 
named Hiram Driggs, under the direction of A. D. Laws, 
who was then in charge of the mechanical department of 
the Brass Company. The reading of the thousandths 
of an inch w^as given by a pointer and a spiral line of 
the same pitch as the screw, 40 to the inch, running 
around the cylinder and crossed by a set of 25 lateral, 
parallel lines. In the early part of 1867, the matter was 
taken up with J. R. Brown & Sharpe with a view to hav- 
ing them manufacture the gauges, and the one shown. A, 
Fig. 44, with Mr. Laws' name stamped on it, is still in 
their possession. As submitted, the tool was not consid- 
ered to be of commercial value, for the cylinder was com- 
pletely covered with spiral and straight lines intersecting 
each other so closely that it was impossible to put any 
figures upon it, thus making it very difficult to read. 

In 1848 Jean Laurent Palmer, a skilled mechanic in 
Paris, patented a ''screw caliper," sho^vn at B, Fig. 44, 
and began manufacturing it under the name of "Sys- 
teme Palmer. ' ' In this micrometer the graduations were 
divided, one set being on the cylinder of the frame and 
the other on the revolving barrel, an arrangement which 
permitted all the markings necessary for clearness. The 
importance of this tool does not seem to have been appre- 
ciated until August, 1867, when J. R. Brown and Lucian 
Sharpe saw one at the Paris Exposition. They at once 
recognized its possibilities and brought one home mth 
them. To use Mr. Sharpe 's own words: "As a gauge 
was wanted for measuring sheet metal, we adopted 
Palmer's plan of division, and the Bridgeport man's size 
of gauge, adding the clamp for tightening the screw and 
the adjusting screw for compensating the wear of end 


^ 00 























































^ •- :S 

^ Pu 

tH « i; 

r o 

<; PQ U Q 


of points where the metal is measured, and produced our 
* Pocket Sheet Metal Gauge.' ... We should never have 
made such a gauge as was shown us by the Bridgeport 
man in 1867, to sell on our own account, as it would be 
too troublesome to read to be salable. If we had not 
happened to find the Palmer gauge, and thereby found a 
practical way to read thousandths of an inch, no gauges 
would have been made. If we had never seen the 
Bridgeport device we should have found the Palmer at 
Paris, and without doubt have made such gauges, but 
possibly would have made a larger one first. The imme- 
diate reason of making the 'Pocket Sheet Metal Gauge' 
was the suggestion coming from the Bridgeport Brass 
Company of the want of a gauge of the size of the sample 
shown us for the use of the brass trade."® 

This gauge, shown at C, in Fig. 44, was put on the 
market in 1868, and appeared in the catalog of 1869. 
Comparison of A, B, and C in Fig. 44 shows clearly their 
close relationship. The term ''micrometer" caliper was 
first applied to the one-inch caliper (D, Fig. 44) which 
was brought out and illustrated in the catalog of 1877. 
In Machinery of June, 1915, Mr. L. D. Burlingame has 
given an admirable and very complete account of the 
various improvements which have been brought out since 
that time. In connection with the article, a modern 
micrometer is shown and its various features, with the 
inventors of each, are clearly indicated.^ 

The cylindrical grinder was first made as a crude 
grinding lathe in the early sixties, and used for grinding 
the needle and foot bars of the Wilcox & Gibbs sewing 

«From a letter of Lucian Sharpe, quoted in the American Machinist 
of December 15, 1892, p. 10. 

7 The origin and development of the present form of micrometer is 
further discussed in Machinery, August, 1915, p. 999, and September, 1915, 
pp. 11, 58. 


machines. In 1864 and 1865 the regular manufacture 
of grinding lathes was begun by using parts of 14-inch 
Putnam lathes modified to produce the automatic grind- 
ing lathes. These modifications consisted in mounting 
a grinding wheel on the carriage, providing an automatic 
feeding and reversing attachment, and included the use 
of a dead center pulley. From 1868 until 1876 various 
plans were worked out for a complete universal grinder, 
and by 1876 one had been built and was exhibited at the 
Centennial Exposition. The first one used at the factory 
was put into service a few days after Mr. Brown's death, 
which occurred July 23, 1876. The patent granted to Mr. 
Brown's heirs for this machine included not only the ordi- 
nary devices of the universal grinder so well known today, 
but also provision for form grinding. The designing of 
surface machines as well as many other varieties fol- 
lowed, the work being done under the direction of Charles 
H. Norton, who later had charge of the design of their 
grinding machinery. 

The manufacture of automatic gear cutters was com- 
menced by the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company 
in 1877, two designs by Edward H. Parks, a small manu- 
facturing machine for bevel and spur gears and the larger 
machine for general use, being brought out in that year. 

In sixty years the Brown & Sharpe Company has grown 
from an obscure local shop into a great plant employing 
thousands, but its influence and its product represent a 
greater achievement. Many mechanics of high ability 
have gone to other shops, among whom are Henry M. 
Leland, president of the Cadillac Motor Car Company; 
J. T. Slocomb, Horace Thurston, Elmer A. Beaman and 
George Smith, of Providence; Charles H. Norton, of 
Worcester ; John J. Grant, of Boston ; William S. Daven- 
port, of New Bedford ; A. J. Shaw, of the Shaw Electric 
Crane Company, and H. K. LeBlond, of Cincinnati. 


Hundreds of others, however, as managers, superintend- 
ents, chief draftsmen and tool makers, have perhaps 
done more to spread throughout the country the methods 
and standards of accuracy which have made American 
machine tools what they are. 

Mr. Henry M. Leland, who was trained in the Provi- 
dence shop, says : 

The man who is responsible for this and who thoroughly 
demonstrated his rare» ability and wonderful persistency in 
bringing out the accurate measuring tools and instruments, 
and the advanced types of more efficient and unique machinery, 
was the founder, Joseph R. Brown. I have often said that in 
my judgment Mr. Brown deserved greater credit than any other 
man for developing and making possible the great accuracy and 
the high efficiency of modern machine practice and in making 
it possible to manufacture interchangeable parts, because the 
Brown & Sharpe Company were the first people to place on the 
market and to educate the mechanics of the country in the use 
of the vernier caliper. They were also the first to make the 
micrometer caliper. 

I remember that in those early days people came to Brown 
& Sharpe from all over the world to consult with Mr. Brown 
in reference to obtaining great accuracy and securing difficult 
results which had been deemed insurmountable by other high- 
grade mechanics. The mechanical engineers are now search- 
ing the records for men who have made themselves eminent in 
the indastrial world as inventors and manufacturers; for a list 
of men to have honorable mention and to have their achieve- 
ments and ability so recorded that the modem world may bestow 
upon them the credit and gratitude which they so richly deserve. 
Among these names I know of none who deserves a higher place 
than, or who has done so much for the modern high standards 
of American manufacturers of interchangeable parts as Joseph 
R. Brown. 


At the close of the chapter on ''Early American 
Mechanics" we referred to the spread of machinery 
building northward from Rhode Island to the Merrimac 
Valley and central Massachusetts. This by no means 
implies that all the northern shops were started by 
Rhode Island mechanics, but their influence is so strong 
as to be clearly seen; and here, as in Rhode Island, 
the early shops were closely identified with the textile 

One of the first and most influential of these was the 
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. The beginnings 
of the Amoskeag Company were made by a Benjamin 
Pritchard, of New Ipswich, N. H., who built a small tex- 
tile mill at Amoskeag Village, then Goffstown, in 1809. 
In 1822 it was bought by Olney Robinson, from whom, 
that same year, Samuel Slater received a letter asking 
for a loan of $3000. This was accompanied by a mag- 
nificent salmon as a sample of the products of Amos- 
keag. Slater, with the instincts of a good sportsman 
and a careful business man, went there to investigate, 
with the result that he bought the property, which then 
consisted of a water power, a two-story wooden mill and 
two or three small tenements. Larned Pitcher soon 
joined him, and in 1825 four other partners were taken 
in, Willard Sayles, Lyman Tiffany, Oliver Dean and Ira 
Gay. Three of the partners were Pawtucket men — 
Slater, Pitcher and Gay. Slater and Gay were very 


influential in the early history of the company. The 
business grew rapidly and in 1841 they formed the 
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, which has had a 
long and successful career. Their charter was broad, and 
they extended their operations until they included tex- 
tile mills, extensive improvements of the water powers 
on the Merrimac, the founding of the city of Manchester, 
and the operation of a large machine shop. 

The last, which interests us most, was started about 
1840. At first it was used only for building and repair- 
ing textile machinery, but before very long it was 
actively engaged in the manufacture of steam boilers, 
locomotives, steam fire engines, turbine wheels and 
machine tools. It comprised two three-story shops, each 
nearly 400 feet long, mth foundries and forge shops, 
and employed in all 700 men — a large plant for seventy- 
five years ago. William A. Burke, its first head, left 
in 1845 to organize the Lowell Machine Shop, which 
built textile and paper machinery and locomotives, and 
did general millwright work. One of the workmen who 
helped install the machinery in the Amoskeag shop was 
William B. Bement. He remained there for two years 
as foreman and contractor, and in 1845 joined Burke 
at Lowell. 0. W. Bayley, who succeeded Burke as head 
of the Amoskeag shop, left in 1855 and founded the 
Manchester Locomotive Works. 

Ira Gay came to New Hampshire from Pawtucket in 
1824. Besides the Nashua Manufacturing Company 
and the Nashua Iron & Steel Works, he and his brother, 
Ziba Gay, founded (about 1830) the Gay & Silver 
Company, later the North Chelmsford Machine & Supply 
Company referred to in a previous chapter. Frederick 
W. Howe, who did such important work with Bobbins & 
Lawrence, the Providence Tool Company, and Brown & 
Sharpe, learned his trade in the Gay & Silver shop. 


It has been claimed that the shop of Gage, Warner & 
Whitney, established by John H. Gage at Nashua in 
1837, was the first one devoted exclusively to the manu- 
facture of machine tools. If this is true, it does not 
involve as high a degree of specialization as would 
seem, for Bishop in 1860 says: ''Their manufactures 
include iron planers of all sizes, engine lathes, from the 
smallest watch maker's up to a size suitable for turning 
locomotive driving wheels six or eight feet in diameter, 
hand lathes of all sizes, chucking lathes of all dimen- 
sions, with sliding bed, bolt cutting machines for 
rapidly transforming any part of a plain bolt into a nice,, 
evenly threaded screw, upright and swing drills, boring 
machines for shaping the interior of steam cylinders, or 
other bores of large diameter, slabbers of all kinds, 
gear-cutting engines of all sizes for shaping and smooth- 
ing the teeth of gear wheels with perfect accuracy, 
power punching machines of various sizes, etc."^ In 
1852 they began building steam engines. With all this 
formidable list, it seems never to have been a very large 

In 1825 the improvement of the water power at what 
is now Lowell was begun. Almost at the very begin- 
ning of this development work, a large machine shop 
was built and placed under the charge of Paul Moody, 
who was regarded as one of the foremost mechanics of 
his day and was an expert in cotton machinery. This 
shop was retained by the Water Power Company for 
nearly twenty years, when it was sold (1845) and reor- 
ganized as the Lowell Machine Shop under Burke's 
leadership. It employed at times one thousand men, 
and became one of the most important shops in the whole 
Merrimac Valley. James B. Francis, the great hydraulic 
engineer, began his life work as a draftsman here in 

1 "History of American Manufactures," Vol. Ill, p. 451. 


1833; and later Bement became its chief draftsman, 
leaving it to go to Philadelphia. 

From 1820 to 1840, other shops sprang up in the Mer- 
rimac Valley, such as C. M. Marvel & Company, of 
Lowell, the Lawrence Machine Shop, and the Essex 
Machine Shop, where Amos Whitney, of Pratt & Whit- 
ney, learned his trade, almost all of them building textile 
machinery, as well as machine tools. The output of these 
shops showed little specialization. They built almost 
anything which they could sell. 

Of the Massachusetts towns, Worcester and Fitch- 
burg seem to have been the first to develop successful 
shops producing machine tools only. In Worcester also 
the machinery trade had its beginning in the manufac- 
ture of textile machinery; in fact, Worcester antedates 
even Pawtucket in its attempts at cotton spinning, but 
these at first were unsuccessful. Practically all the 
early water privileges in and about the town, not used 
for sawmills, were used for textile mills. Prior to 1810 
there was a small clock shop, some paper mills, and a few 
other enterprises, but they could hardly be dignified as 
factories. One of these was the old shop where Thomas 
Blanchard invented his copying lathe for turning irregu- 
lar forms. 

An Abraham Lincoln operated a mill and a forge with 
a trip hammer as early as 1795. Here, in quarters 
rented from Lincoln, Earle & Williams started, about 
1810, the first machine shop in the city. The town grew 
slowly and its interests were largely local. It was not 
until 1820 that Worcester took first rank even among 
the towns in the county. There was quite an excite- 
ment over the discovery of coal in 1823. It was found, 
however, to be so poor, that, as someone put it at the 
time, ** there was a sight more coal after burning- 
it than there was before." The Providence & Worcester 


canal was opened in 1828, but its usefulness for naviga- 
tion was greatly limited by the many power privileges 
along its route. Its traffic was never large and it went 
out of business in 1848. It served, however, to hasten 
the building of the Boston & Worcester Railroad, which 
was built by Boston capital to deflect the trade of the 
central Massachusetts towns from Providence to that 
city. It opened in 1835; and in 1836 there were listed 
in Worcester ''seven machinery works," one wire mill 
and one iron foundry. Most of the earlier tool builders 
were trained in the small textile-machinery shops which 
had sprung up after 1810, such as Washburn & God- 
dard's, Goulding's, Phelps & Bickford's, White & Boy- 
den's. The rapid development of railroads created a 
demand for machine tools which the Worcester mechan- 
ics were quick to recognize, as had Nasmyth and Roberts 
in England. 

Thomas Blanchard, who was bom near Worcester, is 
one of the picturesque and attractive figures in our 
mechanical history. He was a shy, timid boy, who 
stammered badly, and was considered "backward." 
The ingenious tinkerer, laughed at by all, first secured 
his standing by devising an apple-parer which made 
a hit, social and mechanical. At eighteen he began 
building a tack machine and worked six years on it 
before he considered it finished. The essentials of its 
design have been little changed since. It made over two 
hundred tacks a minute and its product was more uni- 
form and better than the hand-made tacks. Blanchard 
sold the patent for it for $5000, a large price for those 
days, but only a fraction of its real value. 

A few years later, about 1818, he invented the lathe 
for turning irregular forms which is associated with his 
name. It was first built for turning gun-stocks at the 
Springfield Armory, and the original machine (Fig. 


29) is still preserved there in the museum. Blanchard 
worked at the Armory for several years as an expert 
designer and invented or improved about a dozen 
machines for the manufacture of firearms, chiefly mor- 
tising and turning machines. 

He was a fertile inventor and worked in many lines 
besides tool building. His principal income came from 
royalties on his ''copying" lathe. Many stories are told 
of his ingenuity and homely wit. In his later life he 
was a patent expert. His keen mechanical intuitions, his 
wide and varied experience and unswerving honesty, 
gave weight to his opinions, and his old age was spent 
in comfortable circumstances. He died in 1864. 

In 1823 William A. Wheeler came to Worcester, and 
two years later he was operating a foundry. He did 
some machine work, and had the first steam engine and 
the first boring machine in Worcester, and also an iron 
planer ''weighing 150 lb., 4 ft. long and 20 in. wide," 
the first one, it is said, in the state. Beginning with three 
or four hands, this foundry employed at times two hun- 
dred men. Its long career closed in the summer of 1914. 

Samuel Flagg moved to Worcester from West Boyl- 
ston in 1839, to be near the Wheeler foundry from which 
he got his castings. "Uncle Sammy Flagg" was the 
first man in Worcester to devote himself entirely to tool 
building, and is considered the father of the industry 
there. He made hand and engine lathes in rented quar- 
ters in the old Court Mills, which has been called the 
cradle of the Worcester tool building industry. His 
first lathes were light and crude, with a wooden bed, 
wrought-iron strips for ways, chain-operated carriage, 
and cast gears, as cut gears were unheard of in the city 
at that time. 

His first competitor, Pierson Cowie, began making 
chain planers about 1845. After a few years he sold his 


business to Woodburn, Light & Company, which in a 
few years became Wood, Light & Company, one of the 
best known of the older firms. About the same time S. C. 
Coombs began making lathes and planers. Flagg mean- 
time had organized the firm of Samuel Flagg & Com- 
pany, which included two of his former apprentices, 
L. W. Pond (whose portrait appears in Fig. 46) and 
E. H. Bellows. Pond later bought out Flagg and Bel- 
lows and developed the business greatly. It was incor- 
porated as the Pond Machine Tool Company, in 1875, 
specialized in heavy engine lathes, and is now part of 
the Niles-Bement-Pond Company. Bellows went into 
the engine business, and Flagg started another enter- 
prise, the Machinist Tool Company, which did not last 
long. It lasted long enough, however, to build one of 
the largest lathes made up to that time, 35 feet long with 
ways 8 feet wide. 

From the old Phelps & Bickford and S. C. Coombs 
shops came the two Whitcomb brothers. Carter and 
Alonzo, who formed the Carter Whitcomb Company in 
1849, which became the Whitcomb Manufacturing Com- 
pany in 1872. From the Coombs company also came 
successively Shepard, Lathe & Company; Lathe, Morse 
& Company, and the Draper Machine Tool Company. 
P. Blaisdell & Company was founded in 1865 by Parritt 
Blaisdell, who had been fifteen years with Wood, Light 
& Company; and S. E. Hildreth, who had worked for 
more than twenty years with Flagg and Pond, became a 
partner in this firm eight years later. The Whitcomb, 
Draper and Blaisdell companies were united in 1905 
into the present Whitcomb-Blaisdell Machine Tool 
Company. From the old Blaisdell shop came also J. E. 
Snyder & Son through Currier & Snyder, who began 
building drills in 1833 and were both old workmen at 
Blaisdell 's. The original Eeed & Prentice Company 













was started by A. F. Prentice, who sold a half interest 
to F. E. Reed in 1875. The Woodward & Powell Planer 
Company comes from the Powell Planer Company, 
incorporated in 1876. This maze of relationships is 
made clear by reference to the table given in Fig. 45. 
The Norton Company comes from F. B. Norton, who 
began experimenting on vitrified emery wheels about 
1873 and put them on the market in 1879. At his death 
the business was incorporated as the Norton Emery 
Wheel Company, now the Norton Company. Charles H. 
Norton's work in developing precision grinding has 
been perhaps the most distinguished contribution to the 
later generation of Worcester mechanics. He began 
work in the shops of the Seth Thomas Clock Company 
at Thomaston, Conn., under his uncle, N. A. Norton, 
who was master mechanic there for about forty years. 
At his uncle's death, Norton became master mechanic. 
He was with the Clock Company about twenty years in 
all, most of the time in charge of the design and building 
of all their tools, machinery and large tower clocks. 

In 1886 Mr. Norton went to the Brown & Sharpe 
Manufacturing Company of Providence as assistant to 
Mr. Parks, their chief engineer. Soon afterward he 
became designer and engineer for their work in cylin- 
drical grinding machinery, remaining in that capacity 
for four years. In 1890 he went to Detroit with Henry 
M. Leland and formed a corporation called the Leland- 
Falkner-Norton Company, Falkner being a Michigan 
lumber man. Associated with them was Charles H. 
Strellinger, a well-known dealer in tools and machinery. 
Six years later Mr. Norton returned to Brown & Sharpe 
and was again their engineer of grinding machinery 
until he went to Worcester in 1900. The Norton Grind- 
ing Company, organized that year and financed by men 
connected with the Norton Emery Wheel Company, have 


built cylindrical and plain surface grinding machinery 
designed by Charles H. Norton, and under his direction 
have been leaders in refining and extending the process 
of precision grinding. 

The Norton Company and the Norton Grinding Com- 
pany should not be confused. The former make grinding 
wheels; the latter build grinding machines. Neither 
should F. B. Norton, who founded the grinding wheel 
industry and who died in 1885, be confused with Charles 
H. Norton, who did not come to Worcester until fifteen 
years later. There is no connection in their work, and 
despite the similarity of name, they were in no way 

The greatest industry in Worcester is the American 
Steel and Wire Company, formerly the Washburn & 
Moen Company. While it is no longer associated with 
tool building, it passed through that phase and traces 
back to the textile industry as well. It was founded by 
Ichabod Washburn, who started in as a boy in a cotton 
factory in Kingston, R. I., during the War of 1812. 
Making up his mind to become a machinist, he served an 
apprenticeship and then worked in Asa Waters' armory 
and with William Hovey, one of the early mechanics in 
Worcester. About 1820 he began the manufacture of 
woolen machinery and lead pipe in partnership first with 
William Howard and later with Benjamin Goddard. 
The enterprise prospered. As he was making cards for 
cotton and woolen machinery, he determined to manu- 
facture the necessary wire himself by a new drawing 
process. His first experiments were a failure, but by 
1830 they were successful enough to justify his under- 
taking regular manufacture. He superseded the old 
methods entirely and built up the present great business. 
Goddard retired, and, after various changes in partner- 
ship, Washburn took in his son-in-law, Philip L. Moen, 


in 1850. By 1868 the firm employed more than nine 
hundred men, and wire drawing, which began as an inci- 
dent in the manufacture of textile machinery, had 
become their sole activity. Today the works employ 
eight thousand men. In 1833 Washburn, in order to 
make an outlet for his wire products, induced the Read 
brothers to move to Worcester from Providence and 
begin the manufacture of screws. This business was 
operated separately under the name of C. Read & Com- 
pany. Later it was moved back to Providence, where 
it developed into the American Screw Company. 

Worcester mechanics have made many things besides 
machine tools ; in small tools and in gun work they have 
long been successful. The Coes Wrench Company was 
started in 1836 by Loring and A. G. Coes, and began 
to make the present form of screw wrench in 1841. 
Asa Waters, in Millbury near by, was one of the early 
American gun makers. After Waters came other gun 
makers, Ethan Allen, Forehand & Wadsworth, Harring- 
ton & Richardson, and Iver Johnson, who later moved 
to Fitchburg. 

Much of Worcester's prominence as a manufacturing 
center is due to the unusual facilities it offered to 
mechanics to begin business in a small way. Nearly 
every manufacturing enterprise in the city began in 
small, rented quarters. There were a number of large 
buildings which rented space with power to these small 
enterprises; one of them, Merrifield's, was three stories 
high, 1100 feet long, and had fifty tenants, employing 
two to eight hundred men. Coes, Flagg, Daniels, Wood, 
Light & Company, Coombs, Lathe & Morse, Whitcomb, 
Pond and J. A. Fay, all began, or at some time operated, 
in this way. One is struck, in looking over the old 
records, with the constant recurrence of certain names, 
as the Earles, Goddards, Washburns, and realizes that 


he is among a race of mechanics which was certain 
sooner or later to build up a successful manufacturing 

Fitchburg, while not so large or so influential, is 
almost as old a tool building community as Worcester. 
Its history centers about the Putnam Machine Com- 
pany which was started by John and Salmon W. Put- 
nam, who came from a family of mechanics. The latter 's 
portrait appears in Fig. 47. They, too, began in cotton 
manufacturing, John as a contractor making cotton 
machine parts, and Salmon as a bobbin boy and later 
as an overseer at New Ipswich and Lowell. In 1836 
they went to Trenton, N. J., intending to start a machine 
shop there, but the panic of 1837 intervened and made 
it impossible. They had themselves built most of the 
machines required ; they stored these and found employ- 
ment until business conditions improved. Finally, they 
started in a hired basement in Ashburnham, Mass., under 
the name of J. & S. W. Putnam. 

A year later they moved to Fitchburg and began 
repairing cotton machinery. At first they did their work 
entirely themselves, but their business increased rapidly 
and they soon hired an apprentice. Their first manu- 
factured product was a gear cutter. This gave them a 
start and they soon developed a full line of standard 
tools. Though he was the younger brother, S. W. Put- 
nam was the leading spirit. He first built upright drills 
with a swinging table so that the work could be moved 
about under the drill without unclamping. He designed 
the present form of back rest for lathes, and is said to 
have invented the universal hanger. The latter inven- 
tion, however, has been claimed for several other 
mechanics in both England and America. In 1849 the 
brothers were burned out, without insurance. They 
repaired their machinery, built a temporary shed over 


it, and were at work again in two weeks. The present 
company was formed in 1858. 

The Putnam company has been influential in other 
lines than machine tools. Putnam engines were for 
many years among the best known in the country, and 
the company was also intimately concerned -with the 
early development of the rock drill, through Charles 
Burleigh, the head of their planer department and the 
inventor of the Burleigh drill. In fact, the first success- 
ful drills, those for the Hoosac tunnel, together with the 
compressors, were designed and built in the Putnam 
shops. Sylvester Wright, who founded the Fitchburg 
Machine Works, was for ten years foreman of their lathe 
department, and most of the old mechanics in and about 
Fitchburg were Putnam men. 

Scattered here and there are other companies. At 
Nashua were Gage, Warner & Whitney, to which we 
have referred, and the Flather Manufacturing Com- 
pany which was founded by Joseph Flather, an English- 
man, in 1867. The Ames Manufacturing Company of 
Chicopee Falls came from the old Ames & Fisher shop 
at North Chelmsford. This was started by Nathan P. 
Ames, Senior, in 1791, who operated a trip hammer and 
other machinery, making edged tools and millwork. The 
shop was burned in 1810, and he moved to Dedham, 
Mass., for a year or so, but returned and resumed his 
former business on the old site. His sons, Nathan P., 
Jr., and James T., learned their trade with their father. 
The older brother, Nathan, moved to Chicopee Falls in 
1829. James joined him in 1834. The Ames Manufac- 
turing Company, formed the same year, lived for sixty 
years and employed at one time over a thousand men. 
From the start they had close relations with the Govern- 
ment and did an extensive business in all kinds of mili- 
tary supplies, swords, bayonets, guns, cannon, cavalry 



goods, etc. They cast bronze statuary, and the famous 
doors of the Capitol at Washington were made by them. 
They rivaled Bobbins & Lawrence in gun machinery 
and shared with them the order for the Enfield Armory. 
This contract alone took three years to complete. Their 
gun-stock machinery went to nearly every government 
in Europe. 

In addition to all this they built the famous Boydon 
waterwheel, mill machinery, and a list of standard 
machine tools quite as catholic as that of Gage, Warner 
& Whitney. They did their work well, contributed mate- 
rial improvements to manufacturing methods and had 
one of the most influential shops of their day. 

Most of the plants for manufacturing woodworking 
machinery can be traced back to a comparatively small 
area limited approximately by Fitchburg, Gardner, 
Keene and Nashua. This section was poor farming 
land, rough and heavily wooded, and the ingenuity of 
its inhabitants was early directed toward utilizing the 
timber. Mr. Smith, of the H. B. Smith Company of 
Smithville, N. J., came originally from Woodstock, Vt., 
and Walter Haywood started at Gardner. J. A. Fay 
and Edward Josslyn began manufacturing woodwork- 
ing machinery as J. A. Fay & Company at Keene, in 
1836. In 1853 they felt the need of better facilities and 
purchased Tainter & Childs' shop at Worcester, which 
was manufacturing the Daniels wood planer. Mr. Fay 
died soon after, and the business passed through the 
hands of H. A. Richardson, Josslyn 's nephew, to Rich- 
ardson, Merriam & Company. They built up a good 
business before the Civil War, and had branch offices in 
New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati. 

In the early sixties the western agents bought the 
name of J. A. Fay & Company and started manufac- 
turing at Cincinnati. Later this was united with the 


Egan Company, and the present J. A. Fay & Egan 
Company formed. When J. A. Fay & Company was 
started at Cincinnati, machinery, superintendent and 
mechanics were brought from Worcester, and, as the 
name implies, the present company was a direct descend- 
ant from the old Worcester and Keene enterprise. 

Winchendon, in the center of the district referred 
to, has long been known for its woodworking machinery. 
Baxter D. Whitney began there before 1840. He died 
in 1915, aged ninety-eight years, the last of the early 
generation of mechanics. For many years he was a 
leader in the development of woodworking tools, and 
the business which he founded is still in successful 
operation under the management of his son, William 
M. Whitney. 

Springfield, although an important manufacturing 
city, has had few prominent tool builders. One com- 
pany, however, the Baush Machine Tool Company, has 
built up a wide reputation for drilling machines, espe- 
cially large multiple spindle machines. 


The most casual consideration of New England's 
mechanical development brings one squarely against a 
most interesting and baffling phase of American indus- 
trial life, the brass industry of the Naugatuck Valley. 
Here, in a narrow district scarcely thirty miles long, 
centering about Waterbury, is produced approximately 
80 per cent of the rolled brass and copper and finished 
brass wares used in the United States, an output 
amounting to upward of $80,000,000 a year. No con- 
centration on so large a scale exists elsewhere in the 
country. For example, in 1900, Pennsylvania produced 
but 54 per cent of the iron and steel, and Massachusetts 
but 45 per cent of the boots and shoes. Furthermore, 
there seems to be no serious tendency to dislodge it. 
While there is more competition from outside, its 
ascendency is nearly as marked today as it was a gen- 
eration ago. Why should this small district, a thousand 
miles or more from its sources of raw material, far from 
its market, and without cheap coal or adequate water 
power, gain and hold this leadership T 

It was not the first in the field. The Revere Copper 

1 The best study of the brass industry of the Naugatuck Valley has 
been made by William G. Lathrop, and has been published by him at 
Shelton, Conn., 1909, under the name of "The Brass Industry." Mr. 
Lathrop had intimate knowledge of the subject and, in addition, unusual 
facilities for investigation. The personal history of many of the men who 
have figured in its growth will be found in Anderson's "History of the 
Town and City of Waterbury," 3 vols. 1895. 


Company, in Massachusetts, founded by Paul Revere, 
began rolling copper in 1801, and the Soho Copper Com- 
pany, at Belleville, N. J., in 1813. The brass business 
in Connecticut had its origin with Henry Grilley, of 
Waterbury, who began making pewter buttons there in 
1790. In 1802 Abel and Levi Porter joined him, and 
they started making brass buttons under the name of 
Abel Porter & Company. In 1811 all the original part- 
ners retired and a new firm was formed, Leavenworth, 
Hayden & Scovill. In 1827 Leavenworth and Hayden 
sold out to William H. Scovill, and the firm became 
J. M. L. & W. H. Scovill. J. M. L. Scovill did the sell- 
ing and his brother ran the shop and the finances. In 
1850 the firm was incorporated as the present Scovill 
Manufacturing Company. 

Meantime, Aaron Benedict established, in 1812, a fac- 
tory at Waterbury for making bone and ivory buttons, 
and, in 1823, he too began making brass buttons. About 
1820 James Croft, a brass worker from Birmingham, 
England, came to the Scovills. A year later Bene- 
dict secured him, and when Benedict and Israel 
Coe formed the firm of Benedict & Coe, in 1829, Croft 
became one of the partners. Croft's coming marks a 
vital point in the history of the industry. On his advice, 
both Scovill and Benedict began to do their own roll- 
ing. It was his influence which induced them to import 
from Birmingham workmen, processes and machinery. 
He went to England seven times for Benedict, and 
Israel Hohnes went three times for Scovill to bring 
back English machinery, rollers and finishers. Israel 
Coe also went to England when the Wolcottville 
Brass Company was started.^ From that time, the 
business may be said to have passed the experimen- 
tal stage, and its growth from 1830 was rapid. 

zLathrop, p. 89. 



William Lathrop, who has made a study of it, has traced, 
perhaps better than any other, the coincident growth of 
the market and the industry. The raw material was at 
first mainly scrap copper, old ship sheathing, kettles, 
boilers and stills, collected by the Connecticut peddlers. 
More and more copper was imported until after 1850 
when the mining of western copper began developing. 
All of the zinc was imported until about 1870. 

At first they rolled brass only for their own use, but 
new demands for it were arising. By 1840 Chauncey 
Jerome had developed the cheap brass clock. The dis- 
covery and refining of petroleum created a lamp indus- 
try. The pin machinery, invented by Dr. J. I. Howe, 
Fowler, and Slocum & Jillson, opened up another great 
outlet. Daguerreotype plates gave another, and metallic 
cartridges another, while the invention of the telegraph 
enormously extended the use of copper wire. The 
Waterbury men were best able to meet these new 
demands, as they were the only ones in the country with 
the facilities and experience needed, and they *'got in 
first." While the rolling and the drawing processes 
were imported bodily from England, and have continued 
almost unchanged, Yankee ingenuity was constantly at 
work devising new articles made of brass and improving 
the machinery for making the old ones. 

With the increasing demand, firms began to multiply. 
Israel Holmes, who had been with the Scovills for ten 
years, started Holmes & Hotchkiss in 1830, and with 
English workmen and machinery made wire and tubing 
for the market. After several changes in partnership, 
the firm became Brown & Elton in 1838. Meantime, 
Holmes, with Israel Coe, Anson Phelps and John 
Hungerford, started the Wolcottville Brass Company 
in 1834, in what is now Torrington. They built up a 
prosperous business in sheet-brass kettles, but lost 


heavily when Hiram W. Hayden, then with Scovill, in- 
vented the spinning process. Their property was 
eventually sold to Lyman Coe, and became the Coe Brass 
Company. The Waterbury Brass Company was started 
in 1845, with Holmes as president. Associated with him 
were H. W. Hayden, Elton, and Lyman Coe, son of Israel 
Coe. In 1853 Holmes founded Holmes, Booth & Hay- 
dens,^ and in 1869 Holmes, Booth & Atwood, which two 
years later was forced to change its name to Plume & 
Atwood on account of its resemblance to the older 

Israel Holmes stands out among the indomitable per- 
sonalities who built up the brass industry. In addition 
to his invaluable work for the Scovills, he started five 
of the strongest firms in the valley, and was the first 
president of three. 

Benedict & Coe became Benedict & Burnham in 1834, 
and from this firm has come the American Pin Company, 
the Waterbury Button Company and the Waterbury 
Clock and Watch companies. Anson Phelps soon with- 
drew from the Wolcottville Brass Company and started 
Smith & Phelps at Derby in 1836. Encouraged by its 
success, Phelps planned to organize a large manufac- 
turing community there, but he was held up by a man 
who raised the price of some necessary land from $5,000 
to $30,000, so he moved two miles up the river and 
founded what is now the city of Ansonia. In 1854 the 
firm was incorporated as the Ansonia Brass & Copper 
Company. Mr. George P. Cowles, who came from Wol- 
cottville in 1848, was its executive head for forty years 
until his death. From it sprang the Ansonia Clock Com- 
pany, of Brooklyn, Wallace & Sons, which failed in 1896 
and became part of the Coe Brass Company, and a num- 

3 There were two Haydens in the firm, H. W. Hayden was in charge of 
the manufacturing and H. H. Hayden in charge of marketing the product. 






ber of other companies. The Chase Eolling Mills Com- 
pany developed from the Waterbury Manufacturing 
Company, Benedict & Burnham, and Holmes, Booth & 
Haydens. Eandolph & Clowes came down through 
BrowTi & Brothers, and Brown & Elton from the old 
Holmes & Hotchkiss firm. 

The American Brass Company was formed in 1899, 
and now comprises the Waterbury Brass Company, 
Holmes, Booth & Haydens, Benedict & Burnham, the 
Coe Brass Company and the Ansonia Brass & Copper 
Company. This is the largest brass company in the 

Such, briefly, is an outline of the history of the 
larger companies. To an outsider their interrelations 
are almost inextricable. The chart (Fig. 50) does little 
more than indicate them. As phases of the business 
grew, there was a clearly defined policy of setting them 
off as separate enterprises. The American Pin Com- 
pany, the Clock, AVatch and Button companies, and the 
Brass Goods Corporation are examples. Only the more 
important of these manufacturing companies are shown. 
While there has been at times sharp competition among 
them, it always stopped short of war, and when facing 
outside competition the companies pull together. 

Many of the heavy stockholders, as Holmes, Elton, 
Burnham and Chase, were interested in several com- 
panies. Nearly all of the leaders were born and grew 
up in the valley and were full of local spirit. Israel 
Coe, Holmes, the Scovill brothers and Phelps, of the 
earlier order, were men of great ability, as also Lyman 
Coe, Cowles and Charles F. Brooker, of the later gen- 
eration. The inventions of Hiram W. Hayden vitally 
affected the history of four companies. They seriously 
undermined the old Wolcottville company, shut the 
Brooklyn Brass Company out of important phases of its 


business, and built up the prosperity of the Waterbury 
Brass Company, and Hohnes, Booth & Haydens. L. J. 
Atwood, of Hohnes, Booth & Haydens, and, later. Plume 
& Atwood, L. S. White, of Brown & Brothers, and W. N. 
Weeden, of Benedict & Burnham, were prolific inventors, 
and their work contributed to the growth of the industry. 

Other influential men have built machinery for the 
large companies. Almon Farrel founded the Farrel 
Foundry & Machine Company in 1851, and had two 
establishments, one in Ansonia and one in Waterbury. 
The Waterbury plant was operated for many years by 
E. C. Lewis as agent. He bought it in 1880, but as a 
matter of sentiment retained the old name, prefixing the 
word Waterbury. The two plants have come to spe- 
cialize somewhat, the Waterbury one building mainly 
presses and stamping machines, and the Ansonia one 
rolling mills and heavy machinery. E. J. Manville, an 
expert mechanic from the Pratt & Whitney shop in 
Hartford, with his five sons, founded the E. J. Manville 
Machine Company, which has built up a wide reputation 
for its presses and headers. Among the many others 
are William Wallace of Wallace & Sons, Ansonia, 
Charles Johnson and A. C. Campbell. 

The answer, then, to our question as to origin and 
success of the Naugatuck brass industry is as follows. 
It sprpng from the local manufacture of buttons. A 
small group of able, forceful and ingenious men devel- 
oped the best facilities in the country for rolling and 
drawing brass, and when new demands came they were 
the only ones with experience prepared to meet them. 
They were originally well situated for raw material. 
Later they bought their copper in Baltimore. By the 
time copper began coming from the West, the Water- 
bury companies were firmly established. Copper is 
expensive, its unit of weight is the pound and not the 


ton, and freight rates are far less important than with 
steel, so the industry's detached location did not out- 
weigh the advantage of its early start. A large force 
of workmen skilled in handling brass has been devel- 
oped in these factories and no large enterprise could 
now be started elsewhere mthout drawing upon them. 
Many of these workmen own their homes, and their rela- 
tions with tlie employers have generally been so friendly 
that higher wages elsewhere do not seem to attract them. 

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, are the 
men who have designed and built the tools used. Con- 
necticut leads all other states in the ratio of patents 
to the population, and Waterbury has led the rest of 
Connecticut in the proportion of nearly two to one. All 
the finishing or ''cutting up" shops, as they are locally 
known, contain highly developed machinery — ^nearly all 
of it special, much of it designed and built in the shop 
where it is used. 

This includes machinery for making eyelets, hooks and 
eyes, pins, cartridges, wire forming machinery, thread 
rolling, and headers and stamping machinery. Some of 
these machines, as, for instance, the last two mentioned, 
are more or less standard, but their tool equipment has 
been wonderfully developed and is bewildering in its 
variety. Much of this machinery has never been made 
public, and nearly all of it is too special, too intricate 
and too varied for description here. It is natural, under 
these circumstances, that the mechanics who developed 
these tools should be comparatively little known. They 
have, however, been a vital element in the Naugatuck 
brass industry, and should be recognized as successful 
American tool builders. 


Although the commercial manufacture of machinery 
began in New England, Philadelphia became, and for 
a long time remained, the largest tool building center 
in the country. Its large population and nearness to 
coal, iron and tide water, made this almost inevitable, 
but it was hastened by the work of two brilliant mechan- 
ics, William Sellers and William Bement. 

Bishop, in his ' ' History of American Manufactures, ' '^ 
says: '*In the invention and construction of machinery 
and instruments for practical and scientific purposes, 
Philadelphia mechanics early acquired a reputation 
for skill. The records of original American invention 
contain few names more distinguished than those of 
Godfrey, the inventor of the quadrant, of Rittenhouse, 
who made the first telescope constructed in America, 
and whose orrery and other scientific instruments dis- 
played unusual mechanical and mathematical genius; 
of Franklin, Evans, Fulton, Fitch, and others whose 
inventive and constructive skill have added to the per- 
manent wealth of the State and the Union." Of these, 
Oliver Evans seems to have affected modern manufac- 
turing methods the most. 

Evans was born in Delaware in 1755. He was appren- 
ticed to a wheelwright, and invented a card machine as 
early as 1777, but never followed it up. In 1785 he 
built a flour mill in Newcastle County, Del. ; and, impa- 

1 Vol. I, p. 576. 


tient at the crude methods in use, he began a series of 
improvements which form the basis of the modern art 
of handling materials. It has been claimed that Evans 
stole many of these ideas from the Ellicotts in Mary- 
land. This does not seem probable. Thomas Ellicott 
wrote a portion of the "Millwright and Millers Guide" 
which Evans published to help introduce his machinery, 
and in this Ellicott himself refers to ''the elevators, 
hopper-boys, etc., invented by Oliver Evans, late of 
Delaware, though now of Philadelphia." Evans devel- 
oped a number of closely related transporting devices 
about which no question is raised and no claims on 
behalf of the Ellicotts made; and many years later, in 
1812, Evans sued those Ellicotts who were then operat- 
ing for infringement of his patents and obtained judg- 
ment. If they could have proved priority it seems 
natural that they would have done so. 

Evans' improvements related chiefly to the movement 
of materials during the processes of manufacture. He 
modified the ancient Egyptian chain of pots, used for 
irrigation, by using an endless belt carrjdng iron 
buckets so arranged as to fill with dry material from a 
boot at the bottom and to empty by gravity into a 
hopper as they went over the head pulley. He used a 
belt conveyor for horizontal movement, without how- 
ever the troughing feature which is a later improvement. 
When the discharge end was lowest, Evans utilized 
gravity to drive it, and called it a ''descender." What 
Evans called a "drill" was an "elevator laid horizon- 
tally" and provided with wooden cleats which scraped 
the grain along the bottom of the box in which it ran, 
and was nothing more nor less than our modern flight 
or scraper conveyor. Evans' "conveyor" was a round, 
wooden shaft on which he nailed a sheet-iron spiral 
which pushed the grain along a trough in which the 


shaft rotated; and when he wished to stir or dry the 
material as he moved it, he broke up the continuous 
helix into a number of separate arms arranged spirally. 
These of course correspond to the modern screw con- 
veyor. His so-called '* hopper-boy" consisted of a ver- 
tical shaft with a horizontal cross bar at its lower end 
provided on its lower side with flights which spread 
the meal for drying, and slowly worked it in a spiral 
toward a hopper at the center. The angle of the flights 
was adjustable so that the time allowed for cooling 
could be varied. He also used pivoted wooden spouts 
at the discharge of the elevators to deliver the grain 
into different bins. These improvements are said to 
have effected a saving of over $30,000 a year in the 
Ellicott Mill at Patapsco, Md., on an output of 325 bar- 
rels a day.^ In his patents and various books Evans 
shows nearly all of the modern transporting devices in 
substantially their present forms.^ 

Evans moved to Philadelphia some time prior to 
1790. In 1800 he had a mill near Third and Market 
Streets and the next year was selling mill supplies at 
Ninth and Market Streets. As a boy he had become 
interested in the steam engine. A description of the 
Newcomen engine fell into his hands and he was struck 
with the fact that the steam was used only to produce 
a vacuum and saw that more power could be obtained 
if it were used to produce pressure. After his removal 
to Philadelphia he made an engine 6 inches diameter 
by 18 inches stroke, which was running in 1802, grind- 
ing plaster of Paris and sawing wood. It cost, boiler 

2 Paper by Coleman Sellers on ' ' Oliver Evans and his Inventions. ' ' 
Journal of the Franlclin Institute, Vol. CXXII, p. 1. 

3 Sections of Evans ' mills are shown in the American Machinist of 
November 7, 1907, and December 17, 1914. In both cases the conveyor 
system was arranged to take material either from wagons on one side of 
the mill or from boats on the opposite side. 


and all, more than $3700 and nearly impoverished him. 
Its successful operation, however, led to an order for 
an engine to drive a steamboat on the Mississippi, which 
was sent to New Orleans but never used for its origi- 
nal purpose. The boat it was intended for had been 
stranded high and dry during a flood, so the engine was 
set to running a saw mill and later a cotton press. In 
1803 Evans began business as a regular engine builder 
and was unquestionably the first one in the United 
"States. He advocated long stroke engines operating 
under high steam pressure, of which he had built fifty 
by 1816. In 1804 he built a flat bottomed boat, fitted 
with a steam driven, chain bucket dredge, which he 
called the "Oruktor Amphibolos" or in good English 
the Amphibious Digger. It w^as built more than a mile 
from the river, and was mounted on rollers connected 
with the engine. After moving around what is now the 
City Hall Square each day for several days, the boat 
walked out Market Street to the Schuykill and into the 
water; its rollers were disconnected, a stern paddle 
wheel substituted, and it steamed down the Schuykill 
and around up the Delaware to the city. 

In 1805 he advertised a new book, ''The Young Engi- 
neer's Guide," which he intended to be very complete 
and ''abstruse." Disappointed in his application for the 
extension of his patents and crippled by his first engine 
ventures, he issued it much abridged, wdth only part of 
the illustrations planned, and called it "The Abortion 
of the Young Engineer's Guide." The proportions 
given in this book for one of his steam engines were: 
diameter of cylinder, 20 inches; stroke, 5 feet; steam 
pressure, 194 to 220 pounds. The boilers were of cast 
iron, 30 inches in diameter, 24 feet long, fired at one end, 
with a single return flue. An engine was actually built 
to these proportions for the Fairmount Water Works. 


It may be added that the boilers burst on three different 

In 1807 Evans was established as *' Millwright and 
Engineer" at the Mars Works at Ninth and Vine 
Streets. An old description of the plant says that it 
consisted of 

an iron foundry, mould-maker's shop, steam engine manu- 
factory, blacksmith's shop, and mill-stone manufactory, and 
a steam engine used for grinding materials for the use of the 
works, and for turning and boring heavy cast or wrought iron 
work. The buildings occupy one hundred and eighty-eight feet 
front and about thirty-five workmen are daily employed. 
They manufacture all cast or wrought-iron work for machin- 
ery for mills, for grinding grain or sawing timber; for forges, 
rolling and slitting-mills, sugar-mills, apple-mills, bark-mills, 
&c. Pans of all dimensions used by sugar-boilers, soap-boilers, 
&c. Screws of all sizes or cotton-presses, tobacco-presses, 
paper-presses, cast iron gudgeons, and boxes for mills and 
wagons, carriage-boxes, &c., and all kinds of smaU wheels 
and machinery for Cotton and "Wool spinning, &c. Mr. Evans 
also makes steam engines on improved principles, invented 
and patented by the proprietor, which are more powerful and 
less complicated, and cheaper than others; requiring less fuel, 
not more than one-fiftieth part of the coals commonly used. 
The small one in use at the works is on this improved principle, 
and it is of great use in facilitating the manufacture of others. 
The proprietor has erected one of his improved steam engines 
in the town of Pittsburg, and employed it to drive three pair 
of large millstones with all the machinery for cleaning the 
grain, elevating, spreading, and stirring and cooling the meal, 
gathering and bolting, &c., &c. The power is equal to twenty- 
four horses and will do as much work as seventy-two horses 
in twenty-four hours; it would drive five pair of six-feet mill- 
stones, and grind five hundred bushels of wheat in twenty-four 

4Freedley: "Philadelphia and its Manufactures," pp. 54-55. Phila- 
delphia, 1858. 


Incidentally the last sentence is an admirable illus- 
tration of the origin of the term ''horse power." This 
business was carried on until Evans' death. It would 
be interesting to know how far he influenced the design 
of Mississippi river boat engines which have retained the 
proportions characteristic of the engines which he first 
built for that service. 

Evans' best-known book, **The Young Millwright and 
Miller's Guide," went through a number of editions 
and was translated and published abroad. In this he 
gives his idea of "The True Path to Inventions." It is 
well worth quoting, as it explains, m part, his own suc- 
cess as an inventor. 

Necessity is caUed the mother of Invention — but upon 
inquiry we shall find that Reason and Experiment bring them 
forth. — For almost all mventions have resulted from such steps 
as the following: 

Step I. Is to investigate the fundamental principles of the 
theory, and process, of the art or manufacture we wish to 

II. To consider what is the best plan, in theory, that can 
be deduced from, or founded on, those prmciples to produce 
the effect we desire. 

III. To inquire whether the theory is already put in prac- 
tice to the best advantage; and what are the imperfections or 
disadvantages of the common process, and what plans are 
hkely to succeed better. 

IV. To make experiments in practice, upon any plans that 
these speculative reasonings may suggest, or lead to. — Any 
ingenious artist, taking the foregoing steps, will probably be 
led to improvements on his own art : for we see by daily experi- 
ence that every art may be improved. It will, however, be in 
vain to attempt improvements unless the mind be freed from 
prejudice, in favour of established plans.° 

5 pp. 345-346. 


Evans was certainly an independent, and probably the 
first, inventor of the high pressure steam engine, a type 
of engine which he saw was well suited to American 
pioneer conditions. He "was interested in steam loco- 
motion, and predicted the development of railways with 
singular accuracy. 

The time will come when people will travel in stages moved 
by steam engines from one city to another almost as fast as 
birds fly — fifteen to twenty miles an hour. Passing through 
the air with such velocity — changing the scenes in such rapid 
succession — will be the most exhilarating, delightful exercise. 
A carriage will set out from "Washington in the morning, and 
the passengers will breakfast at Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia, 
and sup at New York the same day. 

To accomplish this, two sets of railways will be laid so nearly 
level as not in any place to deviate more than two degrees 
from a horizontal line, made of wood or iron, on smooth paths 
of broken stone or gravel, with a rail to guide the carriages so 
that they may pass each other in different directions and travel 
by night as well as by day; and the passengers will sleep in 
these stages as comfortably as they do now in steam stage- 
boats. A steam engine that will consume from one-quarter 
to one-half a cord of wood will drive a carriage 130 miles in 
twelve hours, with twenty or thirty passengers, and will not 
consume six gallons of water. The carriages will not be over- 
loaded with fuel or water. . . . And it shall come to pass that 
the memory of those sordid and wicked wretches who oppose 
such improvements will be execrated by every good man, as 
they ought to be now. 

Posterity will not be able to discover why the Legislature or 
Congress did not grant the inventor such protection as might 
have enabled him to put in operation these great improvements 
sooner — he having asked neither money nor a monopoly of any 
existing thing.' 

8 Evans: Extract from "Address to the people of the United States," 
quoted in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. CXXII, p. 13. 


He practically initiated the modern science of hand- 
ling materials. While many of his theories were faulty, 
his mechanical practice was seldom wrong. He was a 
restless man, discontented and inclined to air his griev- 
ances in public. Once, in a fit of pique, he destroyed 
the drawings and records of, it is said, more than eighty 
inventions — an act which he regretted later. Though 
frequently disappointed, he was in the end fairly suc- 
cessful, and was unquestionably one of the foremost of 
the early American mechanics. 

In Philadelphia, as in New England, many of the 
early shops made textile machinery. Arkwright ma- 
chines were built by James Davenport at the Globe 
Mills at the north end of Second Street, w^hich Washing- 
ton visited in 1797 when the new Federal Government 
inaugurated its policy of developing American indus- 
tries. Davenport died soon after, the business ceased 
and the factory was sold in 1798. Cotton machinery is 
said to have been manufactured also by Eltonhead in 

Philadelphia was then the largest city in the country, 
with an active industrial life. It was natural, therefore, 
that the tools and methods developed in and about Paw- 
tucket should, sooner or later, take root there. In 1810 
Alfred Jenks, a direct descendant of Joseph Jenks, of 
Lynn, having served his time with Samuel Slater in 
Pawtucket, moved to Holmesburg, Pa., and started the 
first factory in Pennsylvania for making textile machin- 
ery. His business grew rapidly and in 1820 he moved 
to Bridesburg, now a part of Philadelphia, bringing his 
shop along wdth him on rollers. By 1825 there were 
thirty cotton mills in and about the city, most of which 
he had equipped. As the demand for woolen machinery 
arose Jenks met it and he equipped the first woolen mill 
built in the state. Under his leadership and that of his 


son, Barton H. Jenks, the shop had a wide influence and 
was the foremost of the early Philadelphia plants build- 
ing textile machinery. Other early shops in this field 
were those of J. & T. Wood, Hindle & Sons, James Smith 
& Company, W. P. Uhlinger & Company.' 

The two plants which gave Philadelphia its great 
reputation for tool building were those established by 
Sellers and Bement. Probably no one has had a greater 
influence on machine tools in America than William 
Sellers. He has been called the Whitworth of America, 
and there is a singular parallelism in the work and 
influence of the two men. Sellers was born in Pennsyl- 
vania in 1824, was educated in a private school main- 
tained by his father, and later apprenticed to his uncle, 
John M. Poole, at Wilmington, Del.® When only 
twenty-one he took charge of the machine shop of Fair- 
banks, Bancroft & Company in Providence, R. I. Three 
years later he began the manufacture of machine tools 
and mill gearing at Thirtieth and Chestnut Streets, 
Philadelphia, and was soon after joined by Edward 
Bancroft, who moved from Providence, the firm becom- 
ing Bancroft & Sellers. John Sellers, Jr., a brother of 
William, became a partner and in 1853 they moved to 
Sixteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Ban- 
croft died in 1855 and the firm became William Sellers 
& Company, which was incorporated in 1886, with 
William Sellers as president. 

Bancroft was the inventive member of the firm and 
Mr. Sellers the executive. Sellers' designing ability did 
not develop until after Bancroft's death. His first 
patent was granted in 1857. In all he was granted over 
ninety United States patents and many others in for- 

TFreedley: "Philadelphia and its Manufactures," pp. 299-302, 427. 
Philadelphia, 1858. 

a Journal of the Frankliti Institute, VoL CLIX, pp. 365-383, 


eign countries, covering a wide variety of subjects; 
machine tools of all kinds, injectors which he introduced 
into the United States, rifling machines, riveters, boilers, 
hydraulic machinery, hoisting cranes, steam hammers 
and engines, ordnance, turntables, etc. One of the best 
known and most original of Sellers' machines was the 
spiral geared planer patented in 1862, which has always 
been associated with his name. 

Almost from the first Sellers cut loose from the 
accepted designs of the day. He was among the first to 
realize that red paint, beads and mouldings, and archi- 
tectural embellishments were false in machine design. 
He introduced the "machine gray" paint which has 
become universal; made the form of the machine follow 
the function to be performed and freed it from all pock- 
ets and beading. Like Bement he realized that Ameri- 
can tools then being built were too light; and they both 
put more metal into their machines than was the prac- 
tice elsewhere. From the first he adopted standards and 
adhered to them so closely that repair parts can be sup- 
plied today for machines made fifty years ago. 

In April, 1864, Sellers, as president of the Franklin 
Institute, read a paper on *'A System of Screw Threads 
and Nuts," in which he proposed the system of screw 
threads since variously known as the Sellers, Franklin 
Institute, or U. S. Standard.^ They embodied the sixty 
degree angle and a flat of one-eighth of the pitch at 
the top and bottom of the thread. In this paper Sellers 
stated clearly the need for some generally accepted 
standard, reviewed the various threads then used, par- 
ticularly the Whitworth thread, with its fifty-five degree 
angle and rounded corners, which he disapproved of on 
three grounds; first, that it was difficult to secure a fit 
at the top and bottom; second, that the angle was diffi- 

» Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. LXXVII, p. 344, 

Figure 51. William Sellers 


cult to verify; and third, the high cost of making cut- 
ting tools which would conform accurately to the stand- 
ard. He proposed the sixty degree angle as easier to 
make and already in general use in this country, and 
the flat top as easy to generate and to verify. He went 
a step further, and proposed at the same time a stand- 
ard for bolt-heads and nuts, in which the dimensions 
were derived from a simple formula and the distance 
across flats was the same for square and hexagon nuts, 
so that the same wrench would do for either style of 

This paper had as great influence in America as 
Whitworth's paper of 1841 had in England. A com- 
mittee was appointed to investigate the question and 
recommend a standard. On this committee, among 
others, were William B. Bement, C. T. Parry of the 
Baldwin Locomotive Works, S. V. Merrick, J. H. 
Towne, and Coleman Sellers. Early in the next year 
the committee reported in favor of the Sellers stand- 
ard, the Franklin Institute communicated their findings 
to other societies, and recommended the general adop- 
tion of the system throughout the country. The Sellers' 
thread was adopted by the United States Government 
for all government work in 1868, by the Pennsylvania 
Eailroad in 1869, the Master Car Builders' Association 
in 1872, and soon became practically universal. After 
exhaustive investigation the Sellers' form of thread was 
adopted in 1898 by the International Congress for the 
standardization of screw threads, at Zurich, and is now 
in general use on the continent of Europe. ^° 

In 1868 William Sellers organized the Edgemoor Iron 

10 For the discussion of the Sellers ' screw thread and the circumstances 
surrounding its adoption, see: Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. 
LXXVII. p. 344; Vol. LXXIX, pp. 53, 111; Vol. CXXIII, p. 261; Vol. 
CXXV, p. 185. 


Company which furnished the iron work for the prin- 
cipal Centennial buildings and all the structural work 
of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the development of this 
business, he led the way in the distinctly American 
methods and machinery by which the building of 
bridges has been, to a great extent, put upon a manu- 
facturing basis. This involved the design and introduc- 
tion of hydraulic machinery, large multiple punches, 
riveters, cranes, boring machines, etc. 

The excellence of his machinery soon brought him 
into contact with government engineers and through- 
out his life his influence in the "War and Navy Depart- 
ments was great. In 1890 the Navy Department called 
for bids on an eight-foot lathe, with a total length of over 
128 feet, to bore and turn sixteen-inch cannon for the 
Naval Gun Factory at Washington. Sellers disapproved 
of the design and refused to bid on it. He proposed an 
alternative one of his owti, argued its merits in person 
before the Board of Engineers, and secured its adop- 
tion and a contract for it. This great lathe, weighing 
over 500,000 pounds, has attracted the attention of 
engineers from all parts of the world. In 1873 Mr. 
Sellers reorganized the William Butcher Steel Works 
as the Midvale Steel Company and became its president. 
Under his management the company grew rapidly, and 
later became a leader in production of heavy ordnance. 

It was here that Frederick W. Taylor began in 1880 
his work on the art of cutting metals, which resulted 
in modern high-speed tool steels and a general re-design 
of machine tools. These experiments, covering a period 
of twenty-six years, cost upwards of $200,000. Mr. 
Taylor has frequently acknowledged his indebtedness 
in this work to the patience and courage of Mr. Sellers, 
who was then an old man and might have been expected 
to oppose radical change. It was he who made the work 


possible, however, and he supported Taylor unwaver- 
ingly in the face of constant protests." Mr. Sellers was 
a man of commanding presence, direct but gracious in 
manner, who won and held the respect and loyalty of all 
about him. His judgment was almost unerring and he 
dominated each of the great establishments he built up. 

The firm of William Sellers & Company had another 
master mind in that of Dr. Coleman Sellers, a second 
cousin of William Sellers.^^ He was born in Philadel- 
phia in 1827, his father, Coleman Sellers, being also an 
inventor and mechanic. Like Nasmyth he spent his 
school holidays in his father's shop, which was at Card- 
ington. In 1846, when he was nineteen years old, he 
went to Cincinnati and worked in the Globe Rolling 
Mill, operated by his elder brothers, where the first loco- 
motives for the Panama Railroad were built; and in 
two years he became superintendent. In 1851 he became 
foreman of the works of James and Jonathan Niles, 
who were then in Cincinnati and building locomotives. 
Six years later he returned to Philadelphia, became 
chief engineer of William Sellers & Company, and 
remained with them for over thirty years, becoming a 
partner in 1873. During these years he designed a wide 
range of machinery, which naturally covered much the 
same field as that of William Sellers, but his familiarity 
with locomotive work especially fitted him for the 
design of railway tools. His designs were original, cor- 
rect and refined. The Sellers coupling was his invention 
and he did much to introduce the modern systems of 
power transmission. 

Doctor Sellers was a good physicist, an expert pho- 

11 F. W. Taylor : Paper on the ' ' Art of Cutting Metals, ' ' Trans, A. S. 
M. E., Vol. XXVIII, p. 34. 

12 See Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol. XXIX, p. 1163; Gassier 's Magazine, 
August, 1903, p. 352; Journal of the FranMin Institute, Vol. CXLIX, p. 5. 


tographer, telegrapher, mieroscopist, and a professor in 
the Franklin Institute, his lectures always drawing 
large audiences. Like William Sellers, he was a member 
of most of the great engineering and scientific societies, 
here and abroad; and he was president of the Ameri- 
can Society of Mechanical Engineers, of which he was 
a charter member. He was received Avith the greatest 
distinction in his visits to Europe. In 1886 impaired 
health compelled his relinquishing regular work and he 
resigned his position of engineer for "William Sellers & 
Company, being succeeded by his son, the present presi- 
dent of the company. His last great work was in con- 
nection with the power development of Niagara Falls. 
He was engineer for the Cataract Construction Com- 
pany and served on the commission which determined 
the types of turbines and generators and the methods 
of power transmission finally adopted. Among the 
others on this commission were Lord Kelvin, Colonel 
Turretini, the great Swiss engineer, and Professor 
Unwin, and its report forms the foundation of modem 
large hydro-electric work. William Sellers & Company 
has a unique distinction among the builders of machine 
tools in having had the leadership of two such men as 
William and Coleman Sellers. 

William B. Bement, the son of a Connecticut farmer 
and blacksmith, was born at Bradford, N. H., in 1817. 
His education w^as obtained in the district schools and 
in his father's blacksmith shop. His mechanical apti- 
tude was so clear that he was apprenticed to Moore & 
Colby, manufacturers of woolen and cotton machinery 
at Peterboro, N. H. His progress at first was rapid. 
Within two years he became foreman, and on the with- 
drawal of one of the partners, was admitted into the 
firm. He continued there three years, already giving 
much thought to machine tools, for which he saw the 




rising need. In 1840 he went to Manchester and entered 
the Amoskeag shop when it was just finished, remain- 
ing there two years as a foreman and contractor under 
William A. Burke, to whom we have referred elsewhere. 
From there Bement went to take charge of a shop for 
manufacturing woolen machinery at Mishawaka, Ind. 
Unfortunately it was burned to the ground while 
Bement had gone back to New Hampshire for his family, 
so that when he returned with them he found himself 
without employment and with only ten dollars in hand. 
For the time being he worked as a blacksmith and gun- 
smith, and made an engine lathe for himself in the shop 
of the St. Joseph Iron Company, which gave him per- 
mission to use their tools in return for the use of his 
patterns to make a similar machine for themselves. 
Much of the work in making this lathe was done by hand 
as there was no planer within many hundred miles. The 
St. Joseph Iron Company, seeing his work, offered him 
the charge of their shop, to which he agreed, provided 
the plant were enlarged and equipped with proper tools. 
This was done, but just as everything was completed 
this plant also was burned down. Bement had plans for 
another shop ready the following day, went into the 
woods with others, cut the necessary timber, and a new 
shop was soon completed. He remained there for three 
years, constructing a variety of machine tools, one of 
which was a gear cutter said to have been the first one 
built in the West, or used beyond Cleveland. 

He returned to New England as a contractor in the 
Lowell Machine Shop under Burke, who had gone there 
from the Amoskeag Mills in 1845. On account of 
Bement 's resourcefulness and skill in designing, Burke 
induced him to relinquish his contracts and take charge 
of their designing, which he did for three years, his 
residence at Lowell covering in all about six years. 


In 1851 Elijali D. Marshall, who had established a 
business of engraving rolls for printing calicos in 1848 
and had a small shop at Twentieth and Callowhill 
Streets in Philadelphia, offered Bement a partnership. 
He moved to Philadelphia in September of that year, 
and with Marshall and Gilbert A. Colby, a nephew, he 
began the manufacture of machine tools under the name 
of Marshall, Bement & Colby, thus starting only a year 
or so after Sellers. Marshall was a large man, dignified 
and deliberate in speech. Bement was strong, vigor- 
ous, a born designer, a remarkably rapid draftsman, 
and had a capacity for work rarely equalled. Colby was 
also a man of considerable mechanical ability, with 
advanced business ideas. Their shop consisted of a 
single three-storied, stone, whitewashed building, 40 by 
90 feet. Their entire machine shop was on the first 
floor, with a 10- by 12-foot room for an office. The 
engine, boiler and blacksmith shop were in small out- 
buildings. Part of the second floor was rented to 
another factory and the rest was sometimes used for 
religious meetings, while the third floor was used for 
engraving printing rolls. Their tools were few and 
crude ; among them were a 36-inch lathe with a wooden 
bed and iron straps for ways, and a 48-inch by 14-foot 
planer with ornate Doric uprights. Marshall and Colby 
soon retired, the latter going to Niles, Mich., where he 
was very successful. James Dougherty, an expert 
foundryman, and George C. Thomas entered the firm, 
which became Bement & Dougherty, the plant being 
known as the *' Industrial Works." Mr. Thomas con- 
tributed considerable capital, and a new shop and a 
foundry were built. At the same time they installed a 
planer 10 feet wide by 8 feet high, to plane work 45 
feet long, a notable tool for that day. 

After a few years of struggle, the plant began to grow 


rapidly and at one time was the largest of its kind in 
the country. Bement and Sellers were among the first 
to concentrate wholly on" tool building. They confined 
themselves to work of the highest quality. Both made 
much heavier tools, as we have said, than the New 
England builders their only competitors, and in a short 
time had established great reputations. Bement relied 
little on patent protection, trusting to quality and con- 
stant improvement. Thomas retired from the part- 
nership in 1856 and Dougherty in 1870; and Clarence 
S. Bement joined the firm, which became William B. 
Bement & Son. John M. Shrigley became a partner in 
1875, William P. Bement in 1879, and Frank Bement in 

Frederick B. Miles was an employee of Bement & 
Dougherty who established a tool business under the 
name of Ferris & Miles, which afterward became the 
Machine Tool Works. While head of these works. Miles 
greatly improved the steam hammer, particularly its 
valve mechanism, and many details of what is known as 
the Bement hammer were invented by Miles. In 1885 
the Machine Tool Works consolidated with William 
Bement & Son, forming Bement, Miles & Company. 
Mr. Miles was an accomplished engineer and designer, 
with the unusual equipment of six languages at his 
command, an asset of value in the firm's foreign business. 
William Bement, Senior, died in 1897, and in 1900 the 
business became a part of the Niles-Bement-Pond Com- 
pany. Mr. Miles retired at that time and has not since 
been active in the tool business." 

Although Bement and Sellers contributed more to the 
art of tool building than any of the other Philadelphia 

13 Most of the foregoing details in regard to the Bement & Miles Works 
have been obtained from Mr. Clarence S. Bement and Mr. W. T. Hagman, 
their present general manager. 


mechanics, some of these others ought to be mentioned. 
Matthias W. Baldwin, a native of New Jersey, began 
as a jeweler's apprentice. In partnership with David 
H. Mason he began making bookbinders' tools, to which 
he added in 1822 the engraving of rolls for printing 
cotton goods and later of bank notes. From the inven- 
tion and manufacture of a variety of tools used in that 
business they were led gradually into the machine tool 
business, the building of hydraulic presses, calender 
rolls, steam engines, and finally locomotives. In 1830 
Baldwin built a model locomotive for the Peale Museum 
which led to an order from the Philadelphia & German- 
town Railroad for an engine which was completed in 
1832 and placed on the road in January, 1833. An 
advertisement of that time says : ' ' The locomotive engine 
built by Mr. M. W. Baldwin of this city will depart 
daily, when the weather is fair, with a train of passenger 
cars. On rainy days horses will be attached in the place 
of the locomotive." 

From this beginning has sprung the Baldwin Loco- 
motive Works, which employs approximately 20,000 
men. In 1834 they built five locomotives ; in 1835, four- 
teen; in 1836, forty. Their one thousandth locomotive 
was built in 1861; the five thousandth in 1880 and the 
forty thousandth in 1913. These works have naturally 
greatly influenced the neighboring tool makers. From 
the beginning, both Bement and Sellers specialized on 
railway machinery and they have always built a class of 
tools larger than those manufactured in New England. 

The Southwark Foundry was established in 1836, 
first as a foundry only, but a large machine shop was 
soon added. The owners were S. V. Merrick, who 
became the first president of the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company, and John Henry Towne, who was the engi- 
neering partner. The firm designed and built steam 


engines and other heavy machinery and introduced the 
steam hammer into the United States under arrange- 
ment with James Nasmyth. From the designs of Capt. 
John Ericsson they built the engines for the *' Prince- 
ton," the first American man-of-war propelled by a 
screw, and later were identified with the Porter-Allen 
steam engine. Mr. Towne withdrew from the firm about 
1848, and the firm name became successively Merrick & 
Son, Merrick & Sons, Henry Gr. Morris, and finally the 
Southwark Foundry & Machine Company. 

I. P. Morris & Company came from Levi Morris & 
Company, founded in 1828, and for many years were 
engaged in a similar work. In 1862 Mr. J. H. Towne, 
above referred to, was admitted to the firm as the engi- 
neering partner, and the firm name then became I. P. 
Morris, Towne & Company, until about 1869 when Mr. 
Towne withdrew. At his withdrawal the firm name was 
restored to its original form, I. P. Morris & Company. 
It is now a department of the Cramp Ship Building 
Company. During the Civil War the works were occu- 
pied largely in building engines and boilers for govern- 
ment vessels, and blast furnace and sugar mill machin- 
ery. During this period Henry R. Towne, son of J. H. 
Towne, entered the works as an apprentice, served in 
the drawing room and shops, and finally was placed in 
charge of the erection at the navy yards of Boston and 
Kittery of the engines, boilers, etc., built for two of the 
double-turreted monitors. Returning to Philadelphia, 
he was made assistant superintendent of the works. 

J. H. Towne was a mechanical engineer of eminence 
in his day, whose work as a designer showed unusual 
thoroughness and finish. He was a warm friend and 
admirer of both William and Coleman Sellers, and 
through his influence, Henry R. Towne was at one time 
a student apprentice in the shops of William Sellers & 


Company, acquiring there an experience which had a 
marked influence on his future work. Both of the firms 
with which J. H. Towne was connected built machine 
tools for themselves and for others, especially of the 
heavier and larger kinds, and thus were among the 
early tool builders. I. P. Morris & Company, about 
1860, designed and built for their own use what was 
then the largest vertical boring mill in this country." 

It may surprise some to learn that the well-known 
New England firm, the Yale & Towne Manufacturing 
Company in Stamford, Conn., is a descendant of these 
Philadelphia companies. It was organized in October, 
1868, by Linus Yale, Jr., and Henry R. Towne, who 
were brought together by William Sellers. Mr. Yale 
died in the following December. This company, under 
the direction and control of Mr. Towne, has had a wide 
influence on the lock and hardware industry in this 
country. While the products of the Yale & Towne 
Manufacturing Company have always consisted chiefly 
of locks and related articles, they have added since 1876 
the manufacture of chain blocks, electric hoists, and, 
during a considerable period, two lines allied to tool 
building, namely, cranes and testing machines. This 
company was the pioneer crane builder of this country, 
organizing a department for this purpose as early as 
1878, and developing a large business in this field, which 
was sold in 1894 to the Brown Hoisting Machine Com- 
pany of Cleveland, Ohio. The building of testing 
machines was undertaken in 1882, to utilize the inven- 
tions of Mr. A. H. Emery, and was continued until 1887, 
when this business was sold to William Sellers & Com- 
pany, for the same reason that the crane business was 
sold ; namely, that both were incongruous with the other 
and principal products of the company. 

1* From correspondence with Mr. Henry R. Towne. 


In recent years the Bilgram Machine Works, under 
the leadership of Hugo Bilgram, an expert Philadelphia 
mechanic, has made valuable contributions to the art of 
accurate gear cutting. 

In the cities between New York and Philadelphia, and 
here and there in the smaller towns of Pennsylvania, 
are several tool builders of influence. Gould & Eber- 
hardt in Newark is one of the oldest firms in the busi- 
ness, having been established in 1833. Ezra Gould, its 
founder, learned his trade at Paterson, and started in 
for himself at Newark in a single room, 16 feet square. 
Within a few years the Gould Machine Company was 
organized, the business moved to its present location, 
and a line of lathes, planers and drill presses was manu- 
factured. To these they added fire engines. Ulrich 
Eberhardt started as an apprentice in 1858 and became 
a partner in 1877, the firm name becoming E. Gould & 
Eberhardt, and later Gould & Eberhardt. Mr. Gould 
retired in 1891, and died in 1901. Mr. Eberhardt also 
died in 1901; the business has since been incorporated 
and is now under the management of his three sons. 
They employ about 400 men in the manufacture of gear 
and rack cutting machinery and shapers. 

The Pond Machine Tool Company, which moved from 
Worcester to Plainfield, N. J., in 1888, was founded by 
Lucius W. Pond.'^ It is a large and influential shop and 
one of the four plants of the Niles-Bement-Pond Com- 
pany. Their output is chiefly planers, boring mills and 
large lathes. 

The Landis Tool Company, of Waynesboro, Pa., build- 
ers of grinding machinery, springs from the firm of 
Landis Brothers, established in 1890 by F. F. and A. B. 
Landis. One was superintendent and the other a tool 
maker in a small plant building portable engines and 

15 See p. 222. 


agricultural machinery. A small Brown & Sharpe 
grinding machine was purchased for use in these works. 
Mr. A. B. Landis became interested in the design of a 
machine more suited to their particular work, and from 
this has developed the Landis grinder. 


Prior to 1880 practically all of the tool building in 
the United States was done east of the Alleghenies. 
The few tools built here and there in Ohio and Indiana 
were mostly copies of eastern ones and their quality 
was not high. In fact, there were few shops in the West 
equipped to do accurate work. '^Chordal's Letters," 
published first in the American Machinist and later in 
book form,^ give an excellent picture of the western 
machine shop in the transition stage from pioneer con- 
ditions to those of the present day. 

Good tool building appeared in Ohio in the early 
eighties, and within ten years its competition was felt 
by the eastern tool builders. The first western centers 
were Cleveland, Cincinnati and Hamilton. Of these, 
Cleveland seems to have been the first to build tools of 
the highest grade. 

We have already noted that the Pratt & Whitney 
shop in Hartford furnished Cleveland mth a number of 
its foremost tool builders. The oldest of these and per- 
haps the best known is the Warner & Swasey Company. 
This company has the distinction, shared with only one 
other, of having furnished two presidents of the Ameri- 
can Society of Mechanical Engineers. Oddly enough 
the other company is also a Cleveland firm, the Well- 

1 Henry W. See : " Extracts from Chordal 's Letters ' ' ; McGraw-HDl 
Book Co., N. Y. 12th Edition. 1909. 


man, Seaver, Morgan Company, builders of coal- and 
ore-handling machinery, and of steel mill equipment. 

Worcester E. Warner, of the Warner & Swasey 
Company, was born at Cummington, Mass., in 1846. 
Although a farmer's son and denied a college educa- 
tion, he had access in his owti home to an admirable 
librarj^ which he used to great advantage. When nine- 
teen years old he went to Boston and learned mechani- 
cal drawing in the office of George B. Brayton. Shortly 
afterwards he was transferred to the shop at Exeter, 
N. H., where he first met Ambrose Swasey. Mr. Swasey 
was born at Exeter, also in 1846, went to the traditional 
"little red schoolhouse," and learned his trade as a 
machinist in the shop to which Warner came. In 1870 
they went together to Hartford, entered the Pratt & 
Whitney shop as journeymen mechanics, and in a short 
time had become foremen and contractors. Mr. Swasey 
soon gained a reputation for accurate workmanship and 
rare ability in the solution of complex mechanical prob- 
lems. He had charge of the gear department, and 
invented and developed a new process of generating 
spur gear teeth, which was given in a paper before 
the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.^ Mr. 
Warner, also, became one of the company's most trusted 
mechanics, was head of the planing department, and had 
charge of the Pratt & Whitney exhibit at the Centennial 
Exposition in Philadelphia. 

In 1881 they left Hartford and went first to Chicago, 
intending to build engine lathes, each putting $5000 into 
the venture; but finding difficulty in obtaining good 
workmen there, they moved in about a year to Cleveland, 
where they have remained. Their first order was for 
twelve turret lathes, and they have built this type of 
machine ever since. At various times they have built 

2 Trans. A. S. M. E., Vol. XII, p. 265. 


speed lathes, die-sinking machines, horizontal boring 
mills, and hand gear-cutters, but they now confine their 
tool building to hand-operated turret lathes. They have 
never built automatics. 

The building of astronomical instruments was not in 
their original scheme, but Mr. Warner's taste for 
astronomy and Mr. Swasey's skill in intricate and deli- 
cate mechanical problems, led them to take up this work. 
These instruments, usually designed by astronomers 
and instrument makers, were in general much too light ; 
at least the large ones were. From their long experi- 
ence as tool builders, Warner and Swasey realized that 
strength and rigidity are quite as essential as accuracy 
of workmanship where great precision is required. The 
design of a large telescope carrying a lens weighing 
over 500 pounds at the end of a steel tube forty or sixty 
feet long, and weighing five or six tons, which must be 
practically free from flexure and vibration and under 
intricate and accurate control, becomes distinctly an 
engineering problem. To this problem both Mr. Warner 
and Mr. Swasey brought engineering skill and experi- 
ence of the highest order. 

When the trustees of the Lick Observatory Called in 
1886 for designs for the great 36-inch telescope, Warner 
& Swasey submitted one which provided for much 
heavier mountings than had ever been used before, and 
heavier construction throughout. They were awarded 
the contract and the instrument was built and installed 
under Mr. Swasey's personal supervision. It is located 
on the very top of Mount Hamilton in California, 4200 
feet above sea-level; and to give room for the observa- 
tory 42,000 tons of rock had to be removed. The great 
instrument, weighing with its mountings more than 
forty tons, ''was transported in sections, over a newly 
made mountain road, sometimes in a driving snowstorm. 


with the wind blowing from sixty to eighty miles an 

As is well known, the instrument was a brilliant suc- 
cess. The Warner & Swasey Company has since 
designed and built the mountings for the United States 
Naval Observatory telescope, the 40-inch Yerkes tele- 
scope, the 72-inch reflecting telescope for the Canadian 
Government, and the 60-inch reflecting telescope for 
the National Observatory at Cordoba, Argentina, the 
largest in use in the southern hemisphere. In addition 
to this large work, the firm has built meridian circles, 
transits and other instruments for astronomical work, 
range finders for the United States Government, and 
introduced the prismatic binocular into this country. 

In connection with this astronomical work Mr. Swasey 
designed and built a dividing engine capable of divid- 
ing circles of 40 inches in diameter with an error of 
less than one second of arc. A second of arc subtends 
about one-third of an inch at the distance of one mile. 
Although the graduations on the inlaid silver band of 
this machine are so fine that they can scarcely be seen 
with the naked eye, the width of each line is twelve times 
the maximum error in the automatic graduations which 
the machine produces. 

Although their reputation as telescope builders is 
international, Warner & Swasey are, and always have 
been, primarily tool builders. They were not the first 
to build tools in the Middle West, but they were the 
first to turn out work comparable in quality with that 
of the best shops in the East. 

The Warner & Swasey shop has had the advantage 
of other good mechanics besides its proprietors. Walter 
Allen, an expert tool designer, did his entire work with 
them, rising from apprentice to works manager. Frank 

iCasaier's Magazine, March, 1897, p. 403. 


Kempsmith, originally a Brown & Sharpe man, was at 
one time their superintendent. Lucas, of the Lucas 
Machine Tool Company, was a foreman. George Bar- 
dons, who served his apprenticeship with Pratt & Whit- 
ney, went west with Warner and Swasey when they 
started in business and was their superintendent; and 
John Oliver, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic, was 
their chief draftsman. The last two left Warner & 
Swasey in 1891 and established the firm of Bardons & 
Oliver for building lathes. 

Another old Pratt & Whitney workman is A. W. Foote 
of the Foote-Burt Company, builders of drilling 
machines. Unlike the others, however, Foote did not 
work for Warner & Swasey. 

The first multi-spindle automatic screw machines 
were manufactured in Cleveland. The Cleveland auto- 
matic was developed in the plant of the White Sewing 
Machine Company for their own work, and its success 
led to the establishment of a separate company for its 
manufacture. The Acme automatic was invented by 
Reinholdt Hakewessel and E. C. Henn in Hartford. 
Mr. Hakewessel was a Pratt & Whitney man and Mr. 
Henn a New Britain boy, who had worked first in Lo- 
rain and Cincinnati and then for twelve years in Hart- 
ford with Pratt & Cady, the valve manufactures. In 
1895 Henn and Hakewessel began manufacturing bicycle 
parts in a little Hartford attic, developing for this work 
a five-spindle automatic. Seven years later the business 
was moved to Cleveland, where it became the National- 
Acme Manufacturing Company, organized by E. C. and 
A. W. Henn and W. D, B. Alexander, who came from 
the Union Steel Screw Works. Their business of manu- 
facturing automatic screw machinery and screw machine 
products has grown rapidly and is now one of the largest 
industries in Cleveland. 


The White Sewing Machine Company and the Union 
Steel Screw Works were among the first in Cleveland 
to use accurate methods and to produce interchangeable 
work. It was at the Union Steel Screw Works that James 
Hartness, of the Jones & Lamson Machine Company, 
got his first training in accurate work. Their shop 
practice was good and was due to Jason A. Bidwell, who 
came from the American Tool Company of Providence. 

The Standard Tool Company is an offspring of Bing- 
ham & Company, Cleveland, and of the Morse Twist 
Drill Company of New Bedford, Mass. From the 
Standard Tool Company has come the Whitman-Barnes 
Company of Akron, and from that the Michigan Twist 
Drill and Machine Company. 

Newton & Cox was established in 1876, and built 
planers and milling machines. Mr. Newton sold his 
share in the business to F. F. Prentiss in 1880, went to 
Philadelphia, and started the Newton Machine Tool 
Works. Cox & Prentiss later became the Cleveland 
Twist Drill Company. They drifted into the drill busi- 
ness through not being able to buy such drills as they 
required. They began making drills first for them- 
selves, then for their friends, and gradually took up their 
manufacture, giving up the business in machine tools. 

Cincinnati is said to have upwards of 15,000 men 
engaged in the tool building industry, and to be the 
largest tool building center in the world. There are 
approximately forty firms there engaged in this work, 
many of them large and widely known. 

This development, which has taken place within the 
past thirty-five years, may possibly have sprung indi- 
rectly from the old river traffic. Seventy years ago this 
traffic was large, and Cincinnati did the greater part of 
the engine and boat building and repair work. When 


the river trade vanished, the mechanics engaged in this 
work were compelled to turn their attention to something 
else, and there may be some significance in the coinci- 
dence of the rise of tool building with the decline of the 
older industry. 

There had been more or less manufacturing in Cin- 
cinnati for many years, but little of it could be described 
as tool building. Miles Greenwood established the 
Eagle Iron Works in 1832 on the site now occupied by 
the Ohio Mechanics Institute. It comprised a general 
machine shop, an iron foundry, brass foundries, and a 
hardware factory which rivaled those of New England, 
employing in all over 500 men. The hardware factory 
was important enough to attract the special attention of 
the English commissioners who visited this country in 

In the fifties and early sixties, Niles & Company built 
steamboat and stationary engines, locomotives and 
sugar machinery, and employed from 200 to 300 men. 
This company was the forerunner of the present Niles 
Tool Works in Hamilton. Lane & Bodley were building 
woodworking machinery about the same time, and J. A. 
Fay & Company, another firm building woodworking 
machinery, which started in Keene, N. H., began work 
in Cincinnati in the early sixties. 

The first builder of metal-working tools in Cincin- 
nati was John Steptoe; in fact, he is said to have been 
for many years the only tool builder west of the Alle- 
ghenies. Steptoe came to this country from Oldham, 
England, some time in the forties. It is said that he 
was a foundling and that his name came from his hav- 
ing been left on a doorstep. He was married before he 
came to Cincinnati, and had served an apprenticeship 
of seven years, although he was so young in appearance 
that no one would believe it. After working some time 


for Greenwood, he started in business for himself, mak- 
ing a foot power mortising machine and later a line 
of woodworking tools. The first metal-working tool 
which he built was a copy of the Putnam lathe. With 
Thomas McFarlan, another Englishman, he formed the 
firm of Steptoe & McFarlan, and his shop, called the 
Western Machine Works, employed by 1870 about 300 
men. Their old payrolls contain the names of William 
E. Gang of the William E. Gang Company; Mr. Oester- 
lien of the Oesterlien Machine Company; and Mr. Dietz 
of the old Dietz, Schumacher & Boye Company, now the 
Boye & Emmes Machine Tool Company. 

Steptoe was not an originator or an inventor. He 
was a rough man, plain spoken, honest and well 
informed. He died in 1888 at about eighty-four years 
of age. Thomas P. Egan of the J. A. Fay & Egan Com- 
pany, who had worked for Steptoe and was the adminis- 
trator of his estate, sold the business for the widow to 
Otting & Lauder.* In compliance mth Steptoe 's wish 
it was stipulated that his name should be retained and 
it has been perpetuated in the various changes through 
which the business has gone. Today the John Steptoe 
Company manufactures shapers and milling machines. 
Steptoe 's name should be remembered, for Cincinnati 
tool building owes its start more to him than to anyone 
else, with the possible exception of William Lodge, who 
was himself one of Steptoe 's workmen. 

Mr. Lodge, the son of George Lodge, a skilled 
mechanic in the textile industrj^, was born in Leeds, 
England, in 1848. After serving his apprenticeship in 
the shops of Fairbairn & Company, Leeds, he came to 
Philadelphia, where he worked for Chambers Brothers 
from 1869 to 1872, making paper-folding machinery. He 
came to Cincinnati in 1872 and worked for Steptoe for 

* The above facts are given hj several of Steptoe 's old workmen. 


eight years, first as a journeyman machinist and later 
as a foreman. Having saved $1000, he formed a part- 
nership with "WilUam Barker and they started in busi- 
ness the first day of January, 1880, at Fifth Street 
and the C. H. & D. tracks. Associated with them for 
a short time was Mr. Bechle, another Steptoe work- 
man. Their first task was to true up a few second- 
hand machines which they had bought for their shop, 
after which they went out, secured some business, and 
came back and executed it themselves, since they had no 
one in their employ. Part of this first business was 
making some opening dies for Powell and a small tur- 
ret lathe for Lunkenheimer. Lunkenheimer immedi- 
ately ordered three more and during the following year 
eighteen lathes were made and sold. Beginning ^vith 
$1000, the business inventoried at the end of the first 
year $7000; at the end of the second year $32,000; and 
at the end of ten years $400,000. Fifteen months after 
starting they employed seventy-five men. There is little 
doubt that this rapid success induced quite a number of 
the better and more ambitious mechanics in Cincinnati 
to take up similar work. Mr. Lodge was well known 
among the mechanics of the city and had been president 
of their union. If one of their own number could build up 
a successful business, why could they not do the same? 
Some of the best known of the Cincinnati tool building 
firms were established during the few years after Mr. 
Lodge's start. 

In 1886 Mr. Barker sold his interest to Charles Davis 
and began making Fox lathes and monitors independ- 
ently. Lodge and Davis continued in partnership until 
1892, when Mr. Lodge sold his interest to Mr. Thomas 
P. Egan and the firm became Davis & Egan, and later 
the American Tool Works. Mr. Lodge, meanwhile, 
organized the Ohio Machine Tool Company and a year 


later became associated with Murray Shipley, forming 
the present Lodge & Shipley Machine Tool Company. 

Mr. Lodge's first export order was received in 1889. 
Alfred Herbert, who had just started in Coventry, sent 
an inquiry in regard to drill presses to Cincinnati, which 
was forwarded to Mr. Lodge in London. Mr. Lodge 
went down to see him and asked whether the inquiry 
was for purposes of information or for purchase. Mr. 
Herbert said that if Lodge had a better machine he 
would buy. Mr. Lodge asked to see his machine and 
after a little hesitation he was taken out into the shop. 
The first machine he saw was a planer. He said that he 
could save 30 per cent on the work as it was being done, 
and would sell them a machine which would do it for 
£100. He was told that the planer they were looking at 
cost only £65 and replied that that was all it was worth. 
He spent several hours in the shop, and left the plant 
not only with an order, but with the check in payment 
thereof. This was the beginning of a large export 

While the firm was Lodge & Davis, it built lathes, 
planers and drill presses. Mr. Lodge wanted to manu- 
facture rather than build, and to specialize upon lathes. 
Mr. Davis, who was a business man, wanted a complete 
line of tools, as he saw the opportunities of selling other 
machines with the lathes. This led to a policy, the effect 
of which was to build up a number of small tool building 
enterprises, independent of each other, but not compet- 
ing. About 1887 Lodge & Davis began concentrating 
their manufacturing upon engine lathes, and placing 
orders for other types of tools with mechanics known 
to them who were just starting up, or with workmen 
or foremen from their own plant whom they helped to 
start in business. For instance, to Smith & Mills, who 
had been foremen with Steptoe and had started making 


set screws and cap screws, they gave an order for 300 
shapers. Another firm, Smith & Silk, also built shapers 
for Lodge & Davis. Later they added planers, and in 
the early nineties they moved to Kenton, Ohio, and 
began building shapers and planers for their own 
account. To R. K. LeBlond, who had served his appren- 
ticeship with Brown & Sharpe and had come to Cin- 
cinnati to make printers ' machinery and supplies, Lodge 
& Davis gave a large order for slide-rests. To William 
Owen, one of their workmen, they gave an order for 
Fox monitors. Owen went into partnership with Philip 
Montanus and started the Springfield Machine Tool 
Company, and Lodge & Shipley bought their entire 
product for eight years. Through Mr. Lodge's influ- 
ence, Frank Kempsmith came from Warner & Swasey as 
one of the partners in this firm. He afterwards moved 
to Milwaukee and started the Kempsmith Manufactur- 
ing Company. This policy on the part of Lodge & Davis 
unquestionably set upon their feet a number of small 
companies which have since grown into successful, 
independent enterprises. 

William E. Gang worked for Lodge as vice-foreman. 
Greaves was his planer foreman; Henry Dreses was 
his chief draftsman; and William Herman, of the Fos- 
dick Machine Tool Company, was his superintendent. 
Gang & Dietz, and Fosdick & Plucker also began by 
doing work for Lodge & Davis. Through various 
changes the former has become the present Boye & 
Emmes Machine Tool Company and the latter the Fos- 
dick Machine Tool Company. Dreses, with Oscar Muel- 
ler, started Dreses, Mueller & Company in 1896. In 
1902 they separated and each formed a company of his 
own. Greaves, with H. Klussman, began building wood- 
working machinery about 1890, to which they have since 
added the building of engine lathes. The Cincinnati 


Planer Company is another offshoot of Lodge & Davis 
and Davis & Egan through B. Quillen and W. Burtner, 
who were in their office. 

It is impossible here to give the history of all the 
Cincinnati tool builders and only a few can be men- 
tioned. Henry Bickford, a native of New Hampshire 
and an employee of J. A. Fay & Company, started a 
few years before Mr. Lodge. In 1874 he began building 
five sizes of upright drills, from 20 to 38 inches in 
capacity. While his growth was not so rapid as Mr. 
Lodge's, it was steady and by 1885 he had built 3000 
machines. The first machines were cheap and built for 
competition, but from them has developed a product of 
the highest quality. The Bickford Drill Company was 
organized in 1887 and the business was extended to 
include radial and universal drills. The company was 
reorganized in 1893, and in 1894 it absorbed the Uni- 
versal Radial Drill Company, its only competitor in this 
special field in the city. Some j^ears ago the name was 
changed to the Cincinnati Bickford Tool Company. Mr. 
Anton Mill and Mr. Henry M. Norris have in the main 
been responsible for their engineering practice. Mr. 
Mill was a German who came to them from the Cincin- 
nati Milling Machine Company and Mr. Norris is a Cor- 
nell graduate with a wide experience in the eastern tool 
building shops. 

The Cincinnati Milling Machine Company comes from 
the Cincinnati Screw & Tap Company, started by Fred- 
erick Holtz, who began making screws and taps in a 
kitchen about 1880. He made a milling machine with a 
wooden base for fluting his taps, because he was too poor 
to buy one. Lunkenheimer saw this machine and ordered 
one, and from this start came their present milling 
machine business. The firm became the Cincinnati Mill- 
ing Machine Company in 1889 with Mr. Frederick A. 


Geier as president. Mr. A. L. DeLeeuw was for a num- 
ber of years engineer for this company and Ms experi- 
ments in cutting tools have had a mde influence on all 
milling machine practice. 

The prominence of Hamilton, Ohio, in tool building is 
due chiefly to the Niles Tool Works, which moved thither 
from Cincinnati about 1876. Before the war the old 
firm, Niles & Company, to which we have already re- 
ferred, occasionally built tools for their own use. After 
the war, George Gray, who was their designer and 
superintendent, was sent through the eastern states to 
familiarize himself with machine tool building and the 
company took it up as part of their regular work. After 
their removal to Hamilton, they confined themselves 
wholly to this work and have grown to be one of the 
largest firms in the country in this field. About 1900 
the Niles Tool Works were brought under the same 
management as Bement, Miles & Company of Philadel- 
phia, the Pond Machine Tool Company of Plainfield, 
N. J., and the Pratt & Whitney Company of Hartford, 
and they are now operated as one of the plants of the 
Niles-Bement-Pond Company. 

In 1880 Gray left the Niles Tool Works and started 
the Universal Radial Drill Company in Cincinnati. 
This company built the first round column radial drills, 
plain and universal, after Mr. Gray's designs. He left 
the company in 1883 and about ten years later it ceased 
business. The G. A. Gray Company, which he started 
in 1883, at first built lathes, but has specialized on planers 
and is now one of the foremost firms in the country 
specializing in this type of tool. 

As the demand for machine tools spread westward, 
tool building has followed it, and an increasing number 
of companies are springing up in Indiana, Illinois and 
Wisconsin. The oldest of these, the W. F. & John 


Barnes Company of Rockford, 111., began making jig 
saws in 1872. Six years later they added the building 
of small lathes. About the same time they made some 
drill presses for their own use and then began manu- 
facturing them for the trade. Later, tool grinders, arbor 
presses, radial and gang drills were added successively 
to their line of machines. Their only competitors were 
in Worcester and Cincinnati, and the high freight rates 
at that time gave them an important advantage in the 
West. Their early machinery, built to meet pioneer 
conditions, found a considerable market in the less 
developed foreign countries and they have built up a 
widespread export business. 

Rockford has become a clearly defined center for tool 
builders. For many years the W. F. & John Barnes 
Company was the only one in the city, but in 1888 the 
Mechanics Machine Company was established. About 
1893 the Ingersoll Milling Machine Company moved to 
Rockford from Cleveland, where Mr. Ingersoll had been 
associated with Cox & Prentiss. This company has been 
the leader in the development of heavy multiple-head 
milling machines of the planer type. The Barber-Cole- 
man Company began making mechanics' tools and gear 
cutters about 1896. The B. F. Barnes Company, now 
the Rockford Drilling Machine Company, and the 
Barnes Drill Company were established in 1897, by B. F. 
Barnes, a brother of W. F. and John Barnes, who had 
been associated with them for twenty years as superin- 
tendent. In addition to these firms there are the Rock- 
ford Machine Tool Company, the Rockford Milling 
Machine Company, the Rockford Lathe & Tool Com- 
pany, the Rockford Iron Works and W. F. Lingren & 
Company. The first of these companies started in 1897, 
making shapers and planers. In 1913 it bought out the 
drill business of the older Mechanics Machine Com- 


pany. It is said that one of the reasons why Rockford 
has become such a tool building center is that the 
neighborhood was settled by Swedish immigrants, who 
have furnished excellent material for the development 
of skilled mechanics. 

The International Machine Tool Company of Indian- 
apolis was established in 1906. This company manufac- 
tures the turret lathes developed by Mr. C. L. Libbey, 
who was for eleven years chief engineer and superin- 
tendent of the Bullard Machine Tool Company of 
Bridgeport; afterwards superintendent of the Pacific 
Iron Works of the same city, and of the Ludwig-Loewe 
& Company, Berlin, Germany ; and for four years and a 
half construction engineer of the Gisholt Machine Com- 
pany of Madison, Wis. Prom Madison he went to 

There are a number of tool builders in Chicago, but 
though a great manufacturing center, Chicago, like 
New York, has not specialized in tool building as have 
some of the smaller places. There are perhaps a dozen 
firms making large and small tools. Of those who build 
the larger types of tools, Charles H. Besly & Company, 
manufacturers of grinding machines, are best known. 

Frederick M. Gardner, of Beloit, Wis., who was at one 
time with this company, was largely responsible for the 
development of disk grinding machines. Mr. Gardner 
was born in Ashfield, Mass., and served his apprentice- 
ship with Wiley & Russell in Greenfield. From there he 
went to Pratt & Whitney's, was later placed in charge 
of the small tool department until, about 1885, he was 
transferred to Chicago as their special western repre- 
sentative on the Pratt & Whitney tools then being sold 
by Charles H. Besly & Company. His acquaintance 
with Mr. Besly led to the formation of a company, of 
which Mr. Gardner was superintendent, located at 


Beloit because of Mr. Besly's interest in the water power 
there. This company manufactured taps, dies, clamps 
and other small tools. The disk grinder was originated 
about 1890 for use in the manufacture of their clamps. 
For a number of years it retained substantially its first 
form, but with the advent of coarser grades of emery, a 
more powerful design with various refinements and 
adjustments was developed. In 1905 Mr. Gardner 
organized a separate company known as the Gardner 
Machine Company. Since that time still larger and 
more powerful machines have been designed, lever feeds 
and micrometer stop screws added, and various types, 
such as double spindle, vertical spindle and pattern 
makers' grinders, built. Abrasive ring wheels, inter- 
changeable wdth disk wheels allow the use of wet grind- 
ing and thus extend the field of this type of machine. 
Mr. F. N. Gardner died in 1913. His sons, who were 
with him from the origin of the disk grinder, are con- 
tinuing his work in the Gardner Machine Company. 

The Gisholt Machine Works at Madison, which grew 
out of a plant manufacturing agricultural machinery, 
has developed a widely used turret machine for chuck- 
ing work invented by Mr. Conrad N. Conradson. This 
machine applied the turret principle to much larger 
work than it had been used for up to that time. Mr. 
Conradson has left the Gisholt Company and has since 
designed a powerful, multi-spindle automatic lathe 
which, like the Bullard machine (shown in Fig. 56), is 
vertical, and, although a lathe, it has assumed a form 
which would scarcely be recognized as such. This 
machine is built by the Giddings & Lewis Manufacturing 
Company of Fond du Lac, Wis. 

Milwaukee is rapidly establishing a reputation for 
tool building. Kearney & Trecker and the Kempsmith 
Manufacturing Company are well-known builders of 

Figure 50. The "Mult-au-matic" Lathe, 


milling machines. Mr. Kempsmith, as we have already- 
seen, was a Brown & Sharpe man, afterwards superin- 
tendent of Warner & Swasey and for sixteen years at 
Springfield, Ohio, with William Smith and Philip Mon- 
tanus. Other tool builders such as the Milwaukee 
Machine Tool Company and the Steinle Turret Machine 
Company of Madison are helping to spread the art of 
tool building in this new region. 

We have not been able to mention all of the western 
tool builders. Most of these firms have been established 
in recent years and are busy building up a market and 
a reputation. Some of them will take positions of lead- 
ership as Warner & Swasey and Lodge & Shipley have 
done, but this of course requires time. 

There can be no ''conclusion" to the history of a live 
and growing industry. A few of the present tendencies, 
however, may be pointed out. 

One of the most far-reaching influences ever received 
by tool building came from the introduction of high 
speed steel through the work of Frederick W. Taylor 
and his associates. These steels made possible much 
heavier cuts, and increases in cutting speeds, to two or 
two and one-half times the previous prevailing practice. 
Mr. Taylor also made a remarkable investigation of the 
lathe-planer type of cutting tool. A. L. DeLeeuw and 
others have studied the milling cutter and twist drill and 
examined the causes of the failure of cutting edges in 
action, and the influence of large clearances for chips and 
coolants. The new cutting steels and these investiga- 
tions have compelled an extensive redesign of machine 
tools during the past fifteen years, a process which is 
still going on as new demands are made upon the tool 

These years have also witnessed a development of the 
*' station-type " of machine, or one in which there are 


multiple chucks, indexed from station to station, one 
position being used for putting in and taking out work 
while a succession of operations is simultaneously going 
on at the other stations. In general these are high pro- 
duction machines suitable for long runs of standard 
work. The multi-spindle automatic bar-stock lathe 
is an example. One of the latest of these station- 
type tools is the vertical machine shown in Fig. 56, 
which performs all the functions of an engine lathe and 
is in effect five lathes in one machine. 

Another development of recent years has been the 
extension of the grinding process, both for the rapid 
removal of metal and for precision work. This has been 
made possible by the introduction of new and more active 

The map, Fig. 57,° gives a bird's-eye view of the dis- 
tribution of the tool building industry in the United 
States, and shows that it is located in a rectangle which 
includes southern New England and that portion of the 
Atlantic and Middle States lying roughly north of the 
Potomac and Ohio and east of the Mississippi rivers. 
The strong tendency toward concentration in certain 
localities is clearly seen. (Each dot in the map repre- 
sents a shop.) Of the 570 plants shown, 117 are in Ohio, 
98 in Massachusetts, 66 in Connecticut, 60 in Pennsyl- 
vania, 57 in New York, 42 in Illinois, 29 in Michigan and 
18 in "Wisconsin. Thirty years ago practically none 
would have been found west of Buffalo. Today the 
majority are there, although most of the more important 
companies are still in the East. Unquestionably this 
will equalize itself as the newer western shops develop. 

The general types of machine tools seem to be firmly 
established, and new or startling inventions and revo- 
lutionary changes seem unlikely. The present trend is 

5 From the American Machinist, January 29, 1914, p. 210. 







toward higher speeds, heavier cuts with the use of great 
quantities of lubricant, further refinements of jigs and 
holding devices, and the use of highly developed auto- 
matic machines which may be operated by unskilled 

The unprecedented demand upon American tool build- 
ers made by the European War has vastly increased their 
facilities, and will probably tend to establish them even 
more firmly as world leaders in the industry. 



Shortly before his death Richard S. Lawrence wrote for his 
son, Ned Lawrence, an account of his life, which has never 
been published. It unconsciously reveals his genuine worth, 
and draws a simple but accurate picture of the life and strug- 
gles of an American mechanic seventy years ago. Through the 
kindness of Mr. Ned Lawrence it is given below. A few por- 
tions, only, dealing with family matters of no general interest, 
are omitted. 

Hartford, Conn., Dec. 17th, 1890. 

To my son Ned Lawrence. 

By your request I will give you from memory in part a 
history of my life. I was bom in Chester, Vermont, Novem- 
ber 22d, 1817. When I was two years old my Father moved 
to Hounsfield, Jefferson County, N. Y., located on a farm half 
way between "Watertown and Blanchard's Corners. When I 
was four years old my Father moved to Blanchards Corners 
and kept a Log Tavern. This was on the road from Water- 
town to Sackett's Harbour. . . . When I was six years old my 
Father moved on to a farm one-half mile north of Blanchards 
Comers. At this time my Father had a hard time in clearing 
up a new farm of 100 acres. In order to make ends meet, 
Father, when farm work was not driving, carted cannon and 
grape shot from Sackett's Harbour to Watertown. This mate- 
rial was sent to the Harbour during the War of 1812, and 
condemned and sold after the War by the U. S. Government. 
. . . This was the time that I first commenced going to school, 
which did not amount to much. Father died on this farm 
when I was nine years old, leaving Mother with three chil- 
dren. . . . Mother moved about this time with her Father to 



the town of Pamelia. Here they lived about three years, then 
moved to another small farm in the same town. I spent most 
of my time helping on these two farms, and breaking steers. 
Had yokes made for yearlings, had a little sled, and many 
times in winter drove to Watertown Village to mill with grists. 
When I was fifteen years old Grandfather and Mother moved 
to what is now called North Watertown onto a small farm. 
About this time I began to feel a little uneasy, and wanted 
to try something else for a living. I went to live with Uncle 
Judah Lord in Jewellville, North Watertown. Worked for him 
making Carpenters' and Joiners' Tools. My work for the first 
year was sawing by hand seasoned beach plank into blocks 
for planes. This was hard work and I wished myself in some 
better place (many times). There was nothing in the least 
to give me courage, but after a while I could make tools very 
well. What little spending money I had was earned by night 
work, making packing boxes for a paper-mill nearby. Worked 
half the night for 25^. Up to this time I. never had but one 
suit of clothes at the same time, and was doing about as much 
work as those that had much more pay. (I only had my board. 
My folks furnished my clothes.) Lord's business was dull, and 
I went to work for Orange Woods & Co. making window 
sashes. (Will say here that in the basement of Lord's Tool 
Shop was a Custom Gun Shop. I was always anxious to learn 
what I could of anything in mechanical line, and spent my 
spare time with a young man employed in this shop, tinkering 
on guns, and became quite handy with tools, and could do 
general repairs quite well. This was the fore-runner of my 
gun work.) Made sash and doors under contract. All work 
was done by the best machines, and this gave me a good chance 
to instruct myself on machines. At the end of one year the 
shop burnt up, and I was left out in the cold. After a while 
Wood & Co. bought out Judah Lord's Tool Shop and com- 
menced tool making. They hired me to work on tools. In 
about six months this shop burnt up and I was left out in 
the cold again. At this time I was about seventeen years old, 
was nearly disheartened and thought I must try some new 


business. Lord had moved to Brownsville and had charge of 
a Rope Factory and Plaster ]\Iill. He hired me to run the 
mill 12 hours each day. This was very unpleasant work, ter- 
ribly dirty. In about one year this mill stopped and I 
was left in the cold again. Lord moved into a Hotel and 
hired me to go with him as Bartender, Hostler, etc. When 
about twenty years old (living with Lord) was drafted out in 
the service of U. S. to guard the Frontier in the Canada Rebel- 
lion of '37- '38. Served three months, was regularly dis- 
charged, paid off, and drew my Bounty land (and sold it). 
Returned to Brownsville and decided to strike out in some- 
thing new. Being in my 21st year I thought it time to settle 
on something in a larger field than found in Brownsville. 
Thought I would start for Vermont. Went to Utiea with a 
friend in york wagon (no railroad then). This friend was 
taking two children to their Father who was the Engineer 
(Mr. Hardy) on the Albany & Schenectady Rail Road, the 
only road then built that I knew of. This friend was taken 
sick at Utica and sent me on with the children to Schenectady, 
which was no small job, as the journey was on the Canal. 
After seeing the children safe with their Father, I changed 
my mind and thought I would go west, so boarded a Canal 
boat and started. On arriving at Utica stept off the Boat and 
a farmer living ten miles from Utica in the town of Clay, 
hired me for a month. Worked out my month, and two weeks 
for another farmer, then I thought it best to visit my friends 
in Vermont, and took Canal boat for Albany, thence by stage 
over the Green Mountains to Windsor. I found Windsor Vil- 
lage a dull place. The next morning I started on foot for 
the west part of the town where my friends all lived. On 
the road met a man with a team, made enquiry where Mr. 
Foster Farwell lived, an uncle who married my Father's sis- 
ter. He looked at me and said, ''Get into my wagon and I 
will take you back to Windsor and then show you one of 
the best Aunts you ever had. I know you by your looks — 
your name is Smith Lawrence." He had not seen me before 
since I was two years old. Found my friends all glad to see 


me. Visited with them for several weeks. While with Doet. 
Story found he had two Rifles, one made by his Brother, Asa 
Story, who had a gun shop close by. This he called his Tur- 
key Rifle, the other was an old Pennsylvania Rifle, full stock, 
barrel 4 feet long, all rusty. The Doctor said it had been one 
of the best. He had killed many a deer with it. I asked him 
to let me repair the rifle and put on a peep sight. He had 
heard of this sight but had never seen one. Was very much 
interested about the sight but did not dare let me repair the 
Rifle for fear I would spoil it. After a while he consented to 
let me make the trial and went over with me to his brother's 
shop and obtained his consent to let me use his shop and tools. 
I went to work, took the gun all apart, leaded out the barrel, 
forged out the sight, finished it and put it on the gun. His 
brother watched me all day. He had never seen a peep sight 
and a mere boy handling tools and forging out work as I did 
was a little astonishing to him. On the Doctor's return from 
his daily trip he made for the shop to see what I had done 
with his Rifle. He found it in such nice shape that he could 
not say too much in my praise. He made an appointment 
for a trial the next day as to the shooting qualities. I had 
most of the day to give the Rifle a trial and adjust the sights. 
We went out, he paced off 12 rods from a maple tree which 
had a % auger hole in (made for sap spill). He said to fire 
at that. I found a good rest, lay down on the ground and 
fired. The Doct. tended target. Could find no ball hole. Said 
I had missed the tree. I fired again — no ball hole to be found. 
Doct. came up to me and said I had spoiled his Rifle. Before 
my repairs he could kill a chicken every time at 12 rods. I 
said, "Uncle, I am very sorry, but I will make the gun all 
right before I leave it." He said he could not consent to 
my doing anything more to improve the shooting quali- 
ties — the sight he liked very much. I said that as the gun 
was loaded would take one more shot and see if I could not 
hit the tree. After the third shot I went up to the tree to 
investigate, and all of the three balls which I had fired were 
found in the auger hole. The Doct. was astonished — dumb- 


founded. Said he never heard of such shooting. We spent half 
of the night talking about guns. He said we must go down 
to Windsor Prison where N. Kendall & Co. were making guns. 
They must know about the ■ peep sights. Mine was the first 
ever seen in that section. We went down to the Prison the 
next day. The Doet. told them all about the sight and his 
Rifle. The Company hired me at once for the term of two 
years at about $100. per year and board. My first work was 
stocking rifles (short stocks, their rifles were stocked only on 
the breech). The first day I put on five stocks, all hand work. 
The next morning Mr. Smith, one of the Company, came along 
and looked the work over. Said the work was done well but 
it would never do to rush work as I had, for I would soon gun- 
stock them out of town — must hold up a little and take it more 
easy. After a few days I was put on iron work. I made it 
a point not to let anything be done in the shop that I did 
not make myself familiar with, and soon found myself capable 
of doing the best work. The Co. had quite a number of free 
men to work on various branches of the work, nice parts, 
engraving, etc. I found that I was equal to any of them 
except engraving. Could not at the end of six months do as 
nice engraving as the older hands, but soon after could com- 
pete with any of them. At the end of six months from begin- 
ning was put in charge of the shop, much to the dislike of the 
older hands, but I carried the work along without any trouble, 
to the satisfaction of all. The foreman of each shop by the 
rules of the prison acted as turnkey, so I had one section of 
prisoners to lock up. I worked out my two years engage- 
ment. ... In 1840 I again entered into the employ of 
N. Kendall & Co., wages $1.08 per day and board. ... I 
continued work at the Prison. This was in 1842. During 
this year the Co. gave up the gun business. I then engaged 
with the State as foreman in the carriage department, con- 
tinued in this position for about one and one-half years, then 
in company with N. Kendall, hired a shop in Windsor Village 
on Mill River and started the Custom Gun Works and Job- 
bing. Carried on the business for about one year, done a fair 


business. One day in the winter of 1844 Mr. S. E. Robbins 
came into the shop and spoke of the Government asking for 
bids for Rifles. "We talked the business over and decided to 
put in a bid for 10,000 U. S. Rifles. Mr. Robbins, with a 
friend Price, went on to Washington to put in a bid for the 
Rifles at $10.90 each, appendages extra. This was 10^ below 
any other bid. The contract was awarded to Robbins, Ken- 
dall & Lawrence. This was in the time of the Mexican War 
and the Government was very much in want of Rifles. We 
made the contract to finish the job in three years. Guns were 
not made at this day very fast. We had nothing to start 
with — buildings or capital. We had much opposition from 
all the Government Gun Contractors. They said we could 
never do the work. We had nerve and pluck and were deter- 
mined to carry out the contract. The real work fell upon 
myself, Robbins not being a mechanic and Kendall not 
exactly calculated for such nice work, made it hard for me. 
We went to work with a will — bought land, built factories, 
bought and made machinery with determined will. We 
started the business in good shape. Soon after finishing the 
Rifles, Robbins and myself bought out Kendall. Robbins then 
said to me, "Lawrence, if it were not for you as a mechanic 
and by your attention to business we could never go along 
with the heavy outlay (debts) on our hands." We finished 
the contract 18 months inside of the time. Made a nice thing 
out of the job. Went on to Washington. The Ordinance 
Board (Gen. Talcott) told us that ours was the only Gun 
Contract ever finished within the contract time. He said, 
"What do you want now? You have done well and finished." 
We said, "We want another contract for Rifles." He said, 
"Come with me over to the Secretary of War's Office" (Sec. 
Marcy). Gen. Talcott told the Secretaiy all about our work 
and wants. The Secretary said they would see about it. On 
our way back to Gen. Talcott 's office he saw that we were a 
little disappointed. He said, "Go right home and a contract 
will be sent to you in a few days." The contract came 
for 15,000 Rifles, which placed us above board. In manufac- 


turing Govt. Rifles a loss of about 38% was considered for 
bad material and workmanship. About this time the Cali- 
fornia Gold excitement was raging. Guns, were in great 
demand. We sold all of our second quality work and good 
mixt with it, anything to make up the gun for full Govt, 
price. This was a great relief every way. Things looked very 
bright. This was in 1849-50. About this time we contracted 
with Courtland C. Palmer for the manufacture of 5,000 of 
the Jennings Rifles, now the "Winchester (improved). This 
required new buildings and machinery. "We made the guns. 
Before this date we were very unfortunately situated about 
freight, as no Rail Road passed through Windsor. Most of 
our freight came by team from Boston. About this time the Rail 
Road was built through Windsor, which put us in the market 
much to our advantage. The Rail Road contractor, Mr. S. F, 
Belknap, came to us and wanted to start the car business with 
us, led us to believe that he could control all the Rail Road 
car work in that section. We went iuto the business with 
him. He put in $20,000 as a silent partner. We went to a 
large outlay, and about the time we finished the first cars, 
Belknap had a quarrel with the President of the Road and we 
could not sell a car when we expected to sell. We sold the 
cars to the Rutland and Burlington Road, took stock and lost 
every dollar to the tune of $40,000. Then we sold $14,000 to 
Boston, Concord & Montreal Road, lost it all; $5,000 to Sul- 
livan Road, $75,000 to "V^ermont Central. This total loss of 
$134,000 was a drain on the gun work and cramped us ter- 
ribly. About this time Belknap died. In settling his estate 
they brought in a charge of $105,000 against Robbins & Law- 
rence as money lent. This I knew nothing about. As near 
as I could learn Belknap & Robbins lost this money in stocks 
in Boston. We had to pay the charge, which made a total 
loss up to this time of $239,000, all paid from gun shop busi- 
ness. We gave up the car business after a while. It was a 
mistake in ever going into this business. While we were fin- 
ishing the 15,000 Government Rifles and Jennings guns in 
1852, we contracted with the Sharps Company for the manu- 


faeture of 5,000 Sharpes' carbines in "Windsor, and 15,000 
Carbines and Rifles in Hartford. Sharps Co. advanced $40,- 

000 to enable us to build the factories in Hartford. I moved 
to Hartford in 1853, and after much trouble and many trials 
started up the works. Want of funds by heavy former losses 
made it very hard and troublesome work to start the business. 
After starting the business on the Sharps gun in Hartford, 
the Minie Rifle contract was taken from Fox Henderson & 
Co. for 25,000 Minie Rifles. Before this contract was taken 
we had the assurance from Dr. Black, Fox Henderson & Co. 's 
Agent, that he had in his pocket contracts for 300,000 more 
as soon as we finished the 25,000. Fox Henderson & Co. 
agreed and did advance on the contract $100,000. I did not 
like to enter into this contract for 25,000 only, as the outlay 
for the work would cost more than all the profits twice over. 

1 objected to signing the contract without seeing the large 
contract in Dr. Black's pocket, and proposed to ask the Doctor 
to show it. This Mr. Robbins objected to strongly, said it 
would be an insult to Dr. Black. After a long talk I yielded 
the point, but told Mr. Robbins that the minute we signed 
the contract we would be floored. We had better have cut 
off our right hands. We signed the contract. It proved that 
Doct. Black had no additional contract. Part of the work was 
done at Windsor and part in Hartford. For want of funds 
the whole thing was a total failure. The inspection as far as 
we went was very severe. With all the gun work on my hands 
in 1855 and 1856 had a very hard time. The failure of the 
Robbins & Lawrence Co. at Windsor brought Robbins & Law- 
rence under. A new Company was formed at Windsor. I 
stept out and engaged with the Sharps Co. on a salary of 
$4,000. About this time Robbins & La-uTence's Agent, Mr, 
Robbins' friend, failed. I had a notice of his indebtedness to 
Robbins & Lawrence of $43,000. I went immediately to Mr. 
Robbins for an explanation. He said that he put this money 
into Foster's hands to fall back on in case he had any trouble. 
I said, "You left me out in the cold." Then he said, "You 
are all right — can demand a large salary any time." This 


was the very money that Sharps Co. had advanced to Robbins 
& Lawrence to aid them in starting the Hartford shops. Rob- 
bins done all the financing and I attended to the mechanical 
work — never could find out much about our books. He kept 
all mostlj'' on memorandum books as I found at last. This 
$43,000 made in all as far as I know of $282,000 lost in the 
business. I had laboured night and day to build up a busi- 
ness and make myself comfortable and well off for old age. 
All the disappointments were about all that I could stand 
under, but I said to myself that I started out in life with 
nothing but good health, and would try once more, and try 
and keep a part of my earnings. While in the employ of 
Sharps with my salary, patents and speculations on machinery 
in war time, I found myself as I thought worth over $100,000. 
I went to friends for advice what to invest in. All said, "Put 
your money into real estate. It never will decrease in Hart- 
ford. ' ' I took this advice which proved a very disastrous specu- 
lation. In 1872, after leaving Sharps & Co. went into the 
Street Department, thinking myself well off in this world's 
goods, but the hard times of 1873 came unexpected, and it took 
all my salary to furnish my family with a respectable living, 
and take care of my real estate. It would have been better 
to let the whole go and pass through bankruptcy as many others 
did. My pride and the name of my family prevented me from 
doing this. It was a mistake but cannot now be helped. I 
have served 18 years as Supt. of Streets in Hartford, 9 years 
on Water Board, 14 years on Fire Board as Chairman, 4 years 
on Board of Aldermen, and one year on Council Board, 46 
years in all. 


When we first commenced the gun business at Windsor we 
commenced building nice machinery, made many machines for 
other gun makers. Made at Windsor for the English Govern- 
ment most of their gun machines for the Enfield armory. We 
ran a regular machine shop also. In Hartford we ran a 


machine shop and Sharps Co. continued the work. In Hart- 
ford made most of the machines used in the factory, and many- 
others for the English and Spanish Governments, and other 
Gun and Sewing Machine Makers. Started the manufactur- 
ing of gun machinery in Hartford which brought Pratt and 
Whitney into the business. I tried to have Sharps Co. enter 
into the business more extensively as there were bright pros- 
pects in the future, but they could not see it, and declined. 
Sharps Co. commenced on a capital of $100,000, increased it to 
$125,000. The stockholders were paid back their full subscrip- 
tion of stock, about $200,000 in dividends. Sharps was paid 
$1.00 on each gun made; Penfield was paid about $1.25 on 
each gun or 10 per cent on all sales. The Company could not 
agree on anything and sold out the whole plant for about 
$225,000. It will be seen that the stockholders made a good 
thing out of the enterprise. This was all accomplished by the 
use and skill of my brain, as I had the full charge and con- 
trol of the business. If the Company had taken my urgent 
advice they might today be in the position and place of the 
Pratt & Whitney Co. One of my misfortunes in business all 
my life was being engaged with men not mechanics, therefore 
not being able to comprehend the points coming up every day 
in business. Sharps Co. had the chance of taking several 
contracts which I worked up for them where the profits would 
have been over half a million. They could not see it and 
declined. When too late they saw their mistake. 

Note 2 

I introduced the first edging machine ever in use, on the 
Sharps gun in Windsor. The principle of this machine is now 
in general use. Also introduced the first machine for pressing 
on car wheels on a taper without splining or keying. This 
was done at Windsor. This principle has since been used in 
all Rail Road shops. Made a great mistake in not securing 
patents on both of the above. 


Note 3 

Introduced the principle of lubricating the buUet for breach 
loading guns which was the. salvation of breach loading guns. 
The guns were of no use before this. This was done in the 
winter of 1850.i 

Note 4 

Before 1855 all annealing and ease hardening was done with 
Char coal which was very expensive. About this time in Hart- 
ford I introduced the plan and furnaces for using hard coal 
which proved a great success and is now used everywhere for 
both case hardening and annealing. Many other improvements 
on gun work and machinery which I have made might be men- 
tioned, but the above is sufficient. 

1 See Appendix B. 


''Reminiscences of the first magazine rifle. Most important 
discovery by R. S. Lawrence of this city (Hartford, Conn.). — 
Original use of lubricating material in fire arms." 

A few days ago Mr. A. E. Brooks of this city (Hartford, 
Conn.) received a very curious and interesting magazine gun 
from New York, bearing the name of Ex-Superintendent 
R. S. Lawrence of the street department as the manufacturer. 
Conceiving that there must be a good story connected with 
the arm which was one of the first magazine guns ever made 
in this country, a reporter of The Post sought out Mr. Law- 
rence and learned the history of the gun. ''The rifle which 
Mr. Brooks brought to my notice, with my name on it," said 
Ex-Superintendent Lawrence, "is one of a lot of 5,000 manu- 
factured at "Windsor, Vermont, by Robbins & Lawrence, for 
Mr. Courtland C. Palmer of New York. This rifle was known 
as the Jennings gun. A portion of the lot was then called 
single loaders, and a portion repeating rifles, carrying twenty 
charges. The charge of powder was contained in the ball, con- 
sisting of twenty-two grains of powder only. With the repeat- 
ing rifle I have often fired twenty shots within one minute, 
but not with any accuracy, for the reason that all breech- 
loading guns up to this time used what is called the naked 
ball without any patch or lubricating material. The result in 
firing the gun was that the ball leaded the barrel, by building 
on, to such an extent that in firing twenty shots from a 50-100 
calibre bore there would be a hole in the barrel less than 

"In the winter of 1850, while the guns were being manu- 
factured at Windsor, Kossuth arrived in this country, as was 


supposed by many for the purpose of purchasing rifles. Mr. 
Palmer was anxious to sell his rifles, and telegraphed on to 
Windsor that Kossuth would purchase largely, if he could 
be shown that the Jennings rifle could be fired with suflScient 
accuracy to hit the size of a man ten times out of twenty-five 
at the distance of 500 yards. I answered by saying that it 
was impossible to do any such thing with the Jennings rifle. 
Another message was sent to Windsor to come to New York 
by the first train and bring the best gun and ammunition. 
I complied with the request. Mr. C. P. Dixon, Mr. Palmer's 
agent, had all things arranged for the trial at Astoria, L. I. 
I did my best in trying to accomplish the desired effect asked 
for, but not one of the twenty-five shots hit the target. Mr. 
Dixon said that we must make another trial the next day. I 
went to his hotel, more than ever disgusted with breech loading 
rifles, as all efforts had failed to make any accurate shooting 
with any naked balls. All gun men will understand this. 
My business was manufacturing rifles for the Government and 
for the Sharps Rifle Mfg. Co. Most of the night at the hotel 
was spent in trying to devise some way to remedy the trouble 
then existing with breech loading guns. At last the simple 
remedy came, which has proven the salvation of all breech 
loading guns." 

"Early the next morning we started for the target field. I 
did not tell Mr. Dixon at first of my discovery. I simply told 
him that the trouble was all over with. If he would stop at 
the Fulton Market and purchase a small piece of tallow the 
rifle would do all that was required of it, but he had so little 
confidence in the gun that he would not be prevailed upon to 
purchase the tallow. I then thought that I would keep the 
new discovery to myself for awhile, but changed my mind on 
arriving on the target field, and tramped a mile on the ice to a 
farmhouse, and purchased a small piece of tallow. With the 
aid of a lathe in the cartridge shop on the ground, I turned 
out a number of grooves on the balls and filled them with 
tallow. I then went on to the stand and hit the target ten 
times in twenty shots. By this time I had the sights regulated 


and could hit the target about every shot, and finished after 
many shots with a clean gun barrel. This was the first instance 
of lubricating material being used in breech loading guns or 
any other guns. I challenge any dispute on this subject. This 
was the salvation of breech loading guns." 

"At this time William E., a brother of Mr. Courtland C. 
Palmer, was in Paris with the Jennings gun. All parties were 
so interested with the success of the gun that Mr. Dixon, the 
agent, had two boxes of ammunition made up and sent by the 
next steamer to W. E. Palmer in Paris. In two weeks from 
the time of the trial in New York, the invention was known in 
Paris and applied to the French guns with the same success 
as was met with in the Jennings rifle. The same principle is 
used today in all breech loading guns. I came direct from New 
York to Hartford, and informed the president of the Sharps 
Rifle Mfg. Co. of my new discovery and tried to induce the 
company to introduce the lubricating material in the Sharps 
Rifle, as this rifle then used the naked ball and was subject to 
the same very serious trouble as the Jennings. Mr. Sharps 
was called on and the use of the lubricating explained, but 
he ignored the whole matter, calling it a 'humbug.' I 
returned to Vermont somewhat disgusted. In less than one 
week the president of the Sharps Rifle Mfg. Co. wrote to 
Windsor to stop all work until Mr. Sharps and himself arrived, 
stating that Mr. Sharps had tried the lubricating material and 
found that it was indispensable, and that no more guns must 
go out before the change was made for lubrication. The Jen- 
nings rifles, of which a few had been made for samples, were 
in a crude state. Robbins & Lawrence made new models and 
manufactured the 5,000 for Mr. Courtland C. Palmer. After 
this Mr. Tyler Henry, an old and first-class workman of Robbins 
& Lawrence, made in New Haven great improvements on the 
Jennings rifle. After this it went into the hands of the Winches- 
ter Arms Company of New Haven. They made great improve- 
ments on the gun and called it the Winchester Repeating Rifle. 
It is the outcrop of the old Jennings rifle. "^ 

iFrom the Hartford Evening Post, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1890, 


Smiles: Industrial Biography. Boston, 1864. 

Smiles: Men of Invention and Industry. N. Y., 1885. 

Smiles: Boulton and Watt. London, 1904. 

Smiles: The Stephensons. London, 1904. 

Smiles: Smeaton and Rennie. London, 1904. 

Beck: Beitrage zur Geschiehte des Masehinenbaues. Berlin, 

Matschoss: Beitrage zur Geschiehte der Technik und Industrie. 
Berlin, Bande I-V, 1909-1913. 

Sargant: "Sir Samuel Bentham," in "Essays of a Birmingham 
Manufacturer." London, 1869. 

Bentham, Mary S. : Memoirs of Brigadier-General Sir Samuel 
Bentham, in Papers and Practical Illustrations of Public 
Works. London, 1856, 

Beamish : Life of Sir Marc Isambard Brunei. London, 1862. 

Nasmyth : Autobiography of James Nasmyth, Edited by Smiles. 
London, 1883. 

Holtzapjfel: Turning and Mechanical Manipulation. London, 

Buchanan: Millwork and other Machinery. London, 1841. 

Perrigo: Modern American Lathe Practice. N. Y., 1907. 

Perrigo: Change Gear Devices. N. Y., 1915. 

Camus: Treatise on the Teeth of Wheels (English Translation). 
London, 1837. 

Willis: Principles of Mechanism. London, 1841, 

Fairbaim: Mills and Millwork. London, 1863. 


Pole : Life of Sir William Fairbairn. London, 1877. 

Memoir of John George Bodmer, in Transactions of the Insti- 
tution of Civil Engineers, Vol. XXVIII. London, 1869. 

Farey : Treatise on the Steam Engine. London, 1827. 

Price: Fire and Thief-proof Depositories, and Locks and Keys. 
London, 1856. 

Baker: Elements of Mechanism. London, 1858. 

Bishop : History of American Manufactures. 3 Vols. Phila- 
delphia, 1868. 

Weeden: Economic and Social History of New England. 2 
Vols. Boston, 1890. 

Field : State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 

Goodrich: History of Pawtucket, R. I. Pawtucket, 1876. 

Wilkinson: Memoir of the Wilkinson Family. Jacksonville, 
111., 1869. 

Fitch: Report on Manufactures of Interchangeable Mechanism, 
in U. S. Census, 1880. Volume on "Manufactures." 

Durfee: "Development of the Art of Interchangeable Con- 
struction in Mechanism," in Transactions of the American 
Society of Mechanical Engineers, Vol. XIV, p. 1225. 

Olmstead: Memoir of Eli Whitney. New Haven, 1846. 

Woodworth : American Tool Making and Interchangeable Manu- 
facturing. N. Y., 1911. 

Blake: History of Hamden, Conn. New Haven, 1888. 

Blake: New Haven Colony Historical Papers, Vol. V. New 
Haven, 1894. 

North: Memoir of Simeon North. Concord, 1913. 

Washburn: Manufacturing and Mechanical Industries of 
Worcester. Philadelphia, 1889. 

lies: Leading American Inventors. N. Y., 1912. 

Parton: Captains of Industry. Boston, 1891. 


Van Slyck: Representatives of New England. Boston, 1871, 

Goddard: Eminent Engineers. N. Y., 1905. 

Lathrop : The Brass Industry. . Shelton, Conn., 1909. 

Anderson: The Town and City of Waterbury. 3 Vols. New 
Haven, 1896. 

Evans: The Young Millwright and Miller's Guide. Philadel- 
phia, 1826. 

Freedley: Philadelphia and its Manufactures. Philadelphia, 


Cist: Cincinnati in 1851. Cincinnati, 1851. 

Cist: Cincinnati in 1859. Cincinnati, 1859. 

Porter: Engineering Reminiscences. N. Y., 1908. 

Transactions of the Institution of Civil Engineers. London. 

Transactions of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Lon- 

Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

Journal of the Franklin Institute. Philadelphia. 

Files of "American Machinist," New York. 

Files of ' ' Machinery, ' ' New York. 

Files of "Engineering Magazine," New York. 

Files of " Gassier 's Magazine," New York. 

Files of "Engineering News," London. 

Files of "Engineering," London. 

Much of the data in the latter portions of this book is derived 
from private correspondence and personal interviews, and is, 
therefore, not available for reference. 



Acme Wire Co.: 160. 
Allen, Ethan: 226. 
Allen, Walter: 264. 
Alvord, J. D.: 192, 197. 
American Brass Co.: 236. 
American industries: 

reasons for delayed development, 


influence of the cotton gin, 114. 
American iron: 

results of exportation to England, 


early production, 115. 
American Pin Co.: 234. 
American Screw Co.: 125, 198, 226; 

pointed screw, 126. 
American Steel & Wire Co.: 225- 

"American system": 

see Interchangeable manufacture. 
American Tool Works: 269. 
American Watch Co. : 

interchangeable system, 144, 164. 
American Wire Gauge: 205. 
Ames Manufacturing Co.: 

gun-making machinery, etc., 138, 

140, 228-229. 
Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. : 123, 

124, 216-217, 253. 
Andover, Mass.: 

scythe mill, 117. 
Angel, William G.: 126. 
Ansonia Brass & Copper Co.: 234. 
Ansonia Clock Co.: 234. 
Arkwright, Sir Richard: 6, 64, 121, 

150, 161. 
Armstrong, Sir William: 105. 
Arnold, Asa: 

partner of Pitcher, 124. 

Arnold, Jeremiah O. : 125. 
Arnold, Joseph: 

brother of Jeremiah, 125. 
Atwood, L. J.: 237. 

Babbage, Charles: 

calculating machine, 59. 
Baldwin, Matthias: 

Baldwin Locomotive Works, 256. 
Bancroft, Edward: 

Bancroft & Sellers, 247. 
Barber-Coleman Co. : 274. 
Bardons & Oliver: 183, 265. 
Barker, William: 

partner of Lodge, 269-270. 
Barnes, B, F.: 274, 
Barnes, W. F. & John, Co. : 273. 
Barnes Drill Co.: 274. 
Baush Machine Tool Co.: 

drilling machines, 230. 
Bayley, O. W.: 217. 
Beach, H. L.: 165. 
Beach, H. B., & Son: 165. 
Beale, Oscar J.: 

accurate standards, 205. 
Beekley, Elias: 

gun shop, 162. 
Bellows, E. H. : 222. 
Bement, Clarence S. : 255. 
Bement, William B.: 217, 219, 249, 


estimate of, 255; 

hammer, 255. 
Bement & Dougherty: 254. 
Bement, Miles & Co. : 

history of, 254-255. 
Benedict, Aaron: 

brass worker, 232. 
Benedict & Burnham: 234. 



Benedict & Coe: 

brass workers, 232. 
Bentham Jeremy: 22, 25. 
Bentham, Sir Samuel: 7, 22, 49, 89, 


work on Portsmouth block machin- 
ery, 8, 9, 18, 22, 26, 28; 

in Kussia, 23, 24; 

in British navy service, 24 ; 

woodworking machinery, 24, 25; 

planer, 51 ; 

patent of 1793, 38; 

slide-rest, 6, 38; 

relations with Maudslay, 89. 
Bessemer, Sir Henry: 96. 
Besley, Charles H., & Co.: 275. 
Bibliography: 295-297. 
Bickford, Henry: 272. 
Bidwell, Jason A.: 198, 266. 
Bilgram Machine Works: 

gear cutting, 259. 
Billings, Charles E.: 170, 174-175, 

Billings & Spencer Co.: 175-176. 
Blake, Eli Whitney: 160. 
Blake, Philos: 160. 
Blaisdell, P., & Co.: 222, 
Blanchard, Thomas: 220-221; 

lathe for turning gun-stocks, G, 

140, 142, 219, 220-221. 
Blenkinsop : 

Locomotives, 56. 
Block machinery: see PortsmoiUli 

block machinery. 
Bodmer, John George: 75-80; 

estimate of, 79; 

diametral pitch, 70 note 7; 

interchangeable manufacture, 76, 


fire-arms, 76 ; 

two patents, 77-79; 

traveling crane, 77, 80; 

mill machinery, 76. 

Bond, George M. : 

Eogers-Bond Comparator, 180- 

Boring machines: 

Smeaton's, 2, 13; 

Wilkinson's, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 60; 

in 18th century, 4. 
Boston, Mass. : 

heavy forge, 117. 
Boston & Worcester R. E.: 220, 
Boulton, Matthew: 145; 

on Wilkinson's boring machine, 


on Wilkinson, 145. 
Boulton & Watt: 3, 11, 46, 55; 

relations with Wilkinson, 12, 13, 
Bow-string truss: 82, 
Boye & Emmes Machine Tool Co.: 

268, 271. 
Bramah, Joseph: 7, 8, 15, 107; 

estimate of, 19, 20; 

invention of slide-rest, 6, 36; 

planer, 50; 

hydraulic press, 18; 

machine for numbering bank- 
notes, 19; 

woodworking machinery, 18, 19, 


other inventions, 18; 

relations with Maudslay, 17, 19, 

33, 34; 

with Watt, 18; 

with Clement, 19, 5S. 
Bridgeport Brass Co.: 

micrometer, 211-213. 
Bridgeport Machine Tool Co.: 184. 
British Small Arms Commission : 

138, 140, 141. 
Brooker, Charles F.: 236, 
Brown, David: 126, 202. 
Brown, Capt. James S. : 124. 
Brown, Joseph E.: 126, 202; 

estimate of, 215; 

"Universal" miller, 138 note 16, 

196, 208-209; 



linear dividing engines, 202, 204- 

205, 206; 

vernier caliper, 203; 

formed milling cutter, 206, 207; 

improvements on turret screw ma- 
chine, 207; 

universal grinder, 214. 
Brown, Moses: 

textile industry, 120, 121. 
Brown, Sylvanus: 124. 

inventor of slide-rest, 6; 

slide lathe, 120. 
Brown Hoisting Machine Co.: 258. 
Brown & Elton: 

wire and tubing, 233. 
Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing 

Co.: 125, Chapter XVI; 

J. E. Browne & Sharpe, 202, 204 ; 

"Universal" miller, 138 note 16, 

196, 208; 

linear dividing engines, 206; 

precision gear cutter, 206; 

turret screw machines, 207-208; 

limit gauges, 210; 

micrometer caliper, 211-213; 

cylindrical grinder, 213; 

automatic gear cutters, 214. 
Brunei, Sir Isambard K. : 32. 
Brunei, Sir Marc I.: 7, 26, 27, 31, 

49, 107; 

slide-rest, 6; 

inventions, 27; 

Portsmouth block machinery, 8, 

9, 22, 26, 27, 28. 
Bryant, William L. : 

chucking grinder, 200. 
Buchanan : 

English writer, 50. 
Builders Iron Foundry or ' ' High 

Street Furnace": 125. 
Bullard, E. P.: 183-184. 

vertical boring and turning mill, 
Bullard Machine Tool Co.: 184. 

Burke, "William A.: 253; 

Amoskeag Manufacturing Co., 


Lowell Machine Shop, 217, 218. 
Burleigh, Charles: 

rock drill, 228. 
Burlingame, L. D. : 

history of micrometer, 213. 
Burton, James H. : 

Enfield gun machinery, 140. 

Calipers : 

"Lord Chancellor," 45, 211; 

vernier, 203 ; 

micrometer, origin of, 211-213. 
Campbell, A. C: 237. 
Camus: 64; 

"The Teeth of Wheels," 64-65, 

Carmichaels, of Dundee: 

engine makers, 86. 
Carron Iron Works: 2, 85. 
Change-gear box: 182. 
Chase Boiling Mills Co.: 236. 
"Chordal's Letters": 261. 
Cincinnati, Ohio: 

tool building in, 266-267. 
Cincinnati Bickford Tool Co.: 272. 
Cincinnati Milling Machine Co.: 

Cincinnati Planer Co.: 271-272. 
Cincinnati Screw & Tap Co. : 272. 
Clement, Joseph: 7, 8, 9, 57-58, 59, 

99, 107; 

screw-thread practice, 10, 19, 57, 

58-59, 101; 

gear practice, 68; 

taps and dies, 10, 19, 58; lathes, 

19, 57; 

planers, 19, 50, 52, 54, 59 ; 

relations with Bramah, 19, 58; 

with Maudslay & Field, 19, 46, 

Cleveland, Ohio: 183. 

tool builders in, 261-266; 



first multi -spindle automatic screw 
machines, 265. 
Cleveland Twist Drill Co.: 266. 
Clock industry in Connecticut: 171- 

Coe, Israel: 236. 
Coe, Lyman: 234, 236. 
Coe Brass Co.: 234. 
Coes "Wrench Co.: 226. 
Colby, Gilbert A.: 254. 
Collins Co.: 

axe makers, 169. 
Colt, Samuel: 166-168; 

interchangeable system, 137, 168; 
Colt revolver, 166, 167; 
erection of Armory, 167, 168. 
Colt Armory: 165, 166; 
erection of, 167, 168; 
a "contract shop," 178. 
Conradson, Conrad N. : 
turret machine, 276, 
Cook, Asa: 174. 
Coombs, S. C: 222. 
Corliss Machine Works: 126. 
Cotton crop: 

growth of, 150-151. 
Cotton gin: 

invention of, 131, 148 et seq; 
influence, 114, 131, 145, 149, 150- 
151, 161; 

patent rights of, 151-158. 
Cowie, Pierson: 221-222. 
Cramp Ship Building Co.: 257. 
Croft, James: 

brass worker, 232. 
Crompton, William: 114. 
Cup-leather packing: 18. 
Currier & Snyder: 222. 
Cushman, A. F.: 173. 

Darby, Abraham, 3d: 

first iron bridge, 15. 
Darling, Samuel: 

graduating engine, 203, 204. 

Davenport, James: 

textile machinery, 246. 
Davenport, William S.: 214. 
da Vinci, Leonardo: 

anticipation of modem tools, 6, 

Davis, Charles: 269. 
Davis, Jefferson: 

on Whitney's steel-barreled mus- 
kets, 160. 
Davis & Egan: 269. 
D'Eichthal, Baron: 

partner of Bodmer, 75. 
De la Hire: 

gear ceeth, 63, 64, 67. 
DeLeeuw, A. L.: 273, 277. 
Dennison, A. L. : 

American Watch Co., 144. 
de Vaucanson, Jacques: 

milling cutter, 206. 
Diametral pitch : 

"Manchester pitch," 70 note 7; 

Bodmer, 80. 
Die forging: 137. 

Dietz, Schumacher & Boye Co. : 268. 
Dodge, Cyril: 126. 
Dodge, Nehemiah: 

goldsmith, 126. 
Dougherty, James: 254. 
Draper Machine Tool Co. : 222. 
Dresses, Henry: 271. 
Dresses, Mueller & Co.: 271. 
Drilling machines: 

in 18th century, 4. 
Drop hammer: 

developed in America, 5, 143, 175. 
Dwight, Dr. Timothy: 

on Pawtucket^ 121, 

Eagle Screw Co.: 126. 
Earle & Williams: 219. 
Eberhardt, Ulrich: 259. 
Edgemoor Iron Co.: 249-250. 
Egan, Thomas P.: 268, 269. 



Eminent Men of Science Living in 


engraving by Walker, 20. 
Enfield Armory: 5, 96, 103; 

Nasm3;i;li on reorganization of, 


British Small Arms Commission, 

138, 140; 

gun-machinery, 138-141; 

Bobbins & Lawrence, 191-192. 
Epicyclic curve: 63, 67, 68. 
Essex Machine Shop: 219. 
Euler : 

gearing, 64. 
Evans, Oliver: 239-246; 

conveyors for handling materials, 

240-241, 246; 

steam engine, 241-242, 245; 

description of shop, 243; 

steamboat, 242; 

prediction of railways, 245; 

"Engineer's Guide," 242; 

"Miller's Guide," 244. 

Fairbairn, Sir Peter: 71, 74, 107. 
Fairbairn, Sir William: 62, 107; 

on machine tools, 10; 

with George Rennie, 54, 71; 

millwork, 71 ; 

on "a good millwright," 72; 

Fairbairn & Lillie, 72-73, 77; 

treatise on * ' Mills and Millwork, ' ' 


iron ships, 73-74; 

bridge building, 74. 
Fairbairn & Co.: 268. 
Fairfield, George A.: 170, 174, 176. 
Fales & Jenks Machine Co. : 125. 
Farrell Foundry & Machine Co.: 

Fay, J. A., & Co.: 

woodworking machinery, 229-230, 

Fay, J. A., & Egan Co. : 230. 
Fellows, E. R.: 199. 

Fellows Gear Shaper Co.: 199. 
Field, Joshua: 35, 89; 

relations with Maudslay, 8, 35, 


founder of Institution of Civil 

Engineers, 90. 
Fire engine: 

first in America, 116. 
Fitch, John: 

steamboat, 82. 
Fitch, Stephen: 

horizontal turret, 197. 
Fitchburg, Mass.: 219, 227-228. 
Fitchburg Machine Works: 228; 

Lo-swing lathe, 200. 
Flagg, Samuel, & Co. : 221, 222. 
Flather Manufacturing Co.: 228. 
Flax industry: 

Murray's influence on, 57. 
Foote-Burt Co.: 183; 

drilling machines, 265. 
Forehand & Wadsworth: 226. 
Forq, Nicholas: 

planer, 50. 
Fosdick Machine Tool Co. : 271. 
Fosdick & Plucker: 271. 
Fox, James: 7, 50, 52, 53, 54. 
Fox & Taylor: manufacturers of 

blocks, 28. 
Fox, Henderson & Co. : 192. 
Francis, James B. : 

hydraulic engineer, 218. 
Franklin Machine Co. : 125. 
Fulton, Robert: 150, 151, 161. 

Gage, Warner & Whitney: 218, 228. 
Gang, William E.: 268, 271. 
Gang & Dietz: 271. 
Gardner, Frederick M. : 

disk grinding machines, 275. 
Gardner Machine Co.: 276. 
Garvin Machine Co.: 127. 
Gascoigne, William: 

principle of micrometer, 211. 



Gay, Ira: 124, 216-217. 

Gay, Zeba: 124, 217. 

Gay & Silver Co.: 195, 197, 217; 

planer, 53. 
Gearing and Millwork: Chapter VI, 
Geier, Frederick A.: 272-273. 
' ' Genealogies ' ' : 

Early English Tool Builders, Fig. 


New England Gun-makers, Fig. 


Eobbins & Lawrence Shop, Fig. 


Worcester Tool Builders, Fig. 45; 

Naugatuck Brass Industry, Fig. 

Giddings & Lewis Manufacturing 

Co.: 276. 
Gisholt Machine Works: 276. 
Gleason Works: 183. 
Globe Rolling Mill: 251. 
Goddard, Benjamin: 225. 
Gorham, Jabez: 127. 
Gorham Manufacturing Co. : 

founded, 127. 
Gould & Eberhardt: 259. 
Grant, John J.: 214. 
Gray, G. A., Co. : 273. 
"Great Eastern," The: 32. 
"Great Western," The: 32. 
Great Western Railway: 

steamers, 93. 
Greene, Nathaniel: 

cannon factory of, 118. 
Greene, Mrs. Nathaniel: 

friend to Eli Whitney, 147; 

connection with cotton-gin, 148- 

Greene, Timothy: 119, 121. 
Greenwood, Miles: 267. 
Gridley, George O. : 

automatic lathes, 194, 200. 
Grilley, Henry: 

founder of brass industry, 232. 

Grinder : 

developed in America, 5; 
Brown & Sharpe's, 213-214; 
disc, 275-276. 

Hakewessel, Reinholdt: 183; 

Acme automatic, 265. 
Hamilton, Alexander : 

entertains Brunei, 8, 27. 
Hamilton, Ohio: 

tool builders in, 273. 
Hampson, John: 

with Maudslay, 98. 
Hanks, Alpheus and Truman: 

foundry, 165. 
Harper's Ferry Arsenal: 140, 143, 


established, 136; 

interchangeable equipment, 137; 

rifle, 160. 
Harrington & Richardson: 226. 
Hartford, Conn.: 127; 

manufactories of, 164, 165, 170; 

gun makers of, 164, 166, 
Hartford Machine Screw Co.: 170, 

174, 176. 
Hartness, James: 194, 197-198, 266; 

designer of machine tools, 198; 

flat -turret lathe, 198; 

Lo-swing lathe, 200. 
Haskell, Co., The William H. : 124. 
Hawkins, John Isaac: 69; 

on early gear tooth practice, 65- 

68, 70. 
Hayden, Hiram W.: 234, 236. 
Hendey Machine Co.: 

tool-room lathe, 182. 
Henn, E. C: 

Acme automatic, 265. 
Herman, William: 271. 
Hick, B., & Son: 75. 
High Street Furnace: 125. 
Hildreth, S. E.: 222. 
Hobbs, Alfred C: 

picks Bramah's lock, 16. 



Holmes, Tlodgin : 

cotton gin, 152, 154, 156, 157. 
Holmes, Israel: 232, 233, 234, 236. 
Holmes, Joseph: 

pioneer iron worker, 117. 
Holmes & Hotehkiss: 233. 
Holmes, Booth & Haydens: 234, 237. 
Holtz, Frederick: 

milling machine, 272. 
Holtzapffel, Charles: 74, 99; 

on Eoberts, 60-61 ; 

plane surfaces, 100. 
Hovey, P.: 

partner of Pitcher, 124. 
Howe, Elias: 

sewing machine, 144. 
Howe, Frederick W.: 195, 196, 209, 


milling machines, 138, 196, 208, 


profiling machine, 143, 191; 

turret-head screw machine, 195- 

196, 207; 

turret lathe, 197, 199. 
Howe, Hezekiah: 119. 
Humphries : 

suggests invention of large ham- 
mer, 93. 
Hydraulic press: 

invented by Bramah, 18, 34. 

Industriiil conditions: 

new elements in 18th century, 1. 
Ingersoll Milling Machine Co.: 274. 
Institution of Civil Engineers: 

founding of, 90. 
Interchangeable manufacture : 

rise of. Chapter XI; 

developed in America, 5, 129; 

defined, 128; 

abroad, 138, 140; 

in France, 129-131; 

in Hartford, 164; 

tools for, 142-143. 

clock, watch and sewing machine 

industries, 144; 

Bodmer, 76; 

Colt, 137, 168; 

Enfield, 138, 141; 

Simeon North, 131, 133, 135-136, 

137, 162; 

Bobbins & Lawrence, 191 ; 

Eli Whitney, 131-133, 136. 
International Machine Tool Co.: 

Involute gears: 63, 64, 67, 68, 207. 
Iron bridge, the first: 15. 
Iron boats: 

Wilkinson builds the first, 14; 

Symington, 14, 82; 

Brunei, 32; 

Onions & Sons, 14; 

Jervons, 14; 

at Horsley Works, 14; 

"Great Eastern" and "Great 

Western," 32; 

Fairbairn, 73-74. 

Jefferson, Thomas : on interchange- 
able system in France, 129-131; 

on Whitney, 135. 
Jenks, Alfred: 

textile machinery, 123, 246-247. 
Jenks, Alvin: 

cotton machinery, 124-125. 
Jenks, Barton H. : 247. 
Jenks, Eleazer: 

spinning machinery, 123. 
Jenks, Joseph: 115-116, 125. 
Jenks, Joseph, Jr.: 

founder of Pawtucket, 118. 
Jenks, Joseph, 3d : 

governor of Ehode Island Colony, 

Jenks, Capt. Stephen: 

guns, 117; 

nuts and screws, 124; 

Jenks & Sons, 125. 



Jennings gun : 

origin of, 292-294, 
Jerome, Chauneey: 

brass clocks, 144, 171-172, 233. 
Jervons : 

iron boat, 14, 
Jewelry industry in Providence: 

Johnson, Charles: 237. 
Johnson, Tver: 226, 
Johnson, Judge: 

decision, Whitney vs. Fort, 155- 

Jones & Lamson Machine Co.: 191, 

193, 194, 197; 

flat-turret lathe, 198-199; 

Fay automatic lathe, 200, 

Kaestner : 

gearing, 64. 
Kearney & Treeker: 276. 
Kempsmith, Frank: 264-265, 271. 
Kempsmith Manufacturing Co. : 271, 

Kendall, N., & Co. : 186, 189, 
Key-seater: 61. 

Lamson, Goodnow & Yale: 192, 193, 
Lamson Machine Co.: 198, 
Landis Tool Co.: 259-260, 
Lane & Bodley: 267, 
Lapointe, J. N, : 

broaching machine, 183, 
Lathes : 

pole, 3, 41; 

engine, 4; 

in 18th century, 3, 4; 

automatic, 5, 176; 

French rose engine, 6; 

screw-cutting, 19, 35, 40, 119- 


toolroom, 182; 

Lo-swing, 200; 

Bramah and Maudslay, 17; 

Ramsden, 38; 

Bentham, 38; 

Maudslay, 40-42, 46; 

Wilkinson, 119-120; 

Blanchard, 140, 142-143; 

Spencer's turret lathe, 176; 

Fay automatic, 200; 

SeUers, 250. 
Lathe, Morse & Co.: 222. 
Lawrence, Richard S,: 188-189, 195; 

profiling machine, 143; 

master armorer, Sharps Works, 

170, 194; 

lubricated bullet, 194; 

miller, 191, 194; 

split pulley, 194; 

turret lathe, 197; 

autobiography, 281-291, 
Lawrence, Mass,: 127, 
Lawrence Machine Shop: 219. 
Lead screw: 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 

Le Blanc: 

interchangeable gun manufacture 

in France, 130, 
Le Blond, R, K.: 271, 
Lee-Metford rifle: 105. 
Leland, Henry M.: 214; 

on J, R, Brown, 215, 
Leonards: 116, 
Libbey, C. L. : 

turret lathes, 275. 
Limit gauges: 

developed in America, 5, 
Lincoln, Levi: 165, 171, 
Lincoln Co., The: 165. 
Lincoln, Charles L., & Co.: 165. 
Lincoln, George S,, & Co.: 137, 165. 
Lincoln miller: 137, 165-166, 208. 
Linear dividing engines: 206, 
Lingren, W. F., <fc Co.: 274. 
Locomotives : 

early inventions, 56; 

Sharp, Roberts & Co., 61-62; 

Nasmyth, 93. 
Lodge, William E.: 268-271. 



Lodge & Davis: 

policy of, 270-271. 
Lodge & Shipley Machine Tool Co.: 

Lowell, Mass.: 127; 

machine shops of, 218. 
Lowell Machine Shop: 217, 218, 253. 
Lucas Machine Tool Co.; 265. 

McFarlan, Thomas: 268, 
Macauley, Lord: 

on Eli Whitney, 161. 
Machine tools: 

effect of modern, 1; 

crudity in 18th century, 3, 4; 

developments of, 4, 5, 63, 107; 

Fairbairn on, 10; 

Bramah and Maudslay, 34; 

Whitworth, 99; 

Greek or Gothic style, 63 ; 

developed by cotton industry, 120. 
Machine Tool Works: 255. 
Machinist Tool Co.: 222. 
Madison, Wis.: 276. 
Manchester, N. H.: 123, 127; 

founding of, 217. 
Manchester Locomotive Works: 217. 
Manchester pitch : 70 note 7, 80. 
Manville, E. J.: 237. 
Map of tool building industry: Fig. 

Marshall, Elijah D.: 254. 
Marvel, C. M., & Co.: 219. 
Mason, William: 170, 173-174. 
Massachusetts Arms Co.: 162. 
Maudslay, Henry: 7, 8, Chapter IV; 

estimates of, 9, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 


taps and dies, 10, 42, 88; 

Portsmouth block machinery, 8, 

29, 35; 

screw thread practice, 10, 40, 42, 

88, 101; 

cup-leather packing, 18, 34; 

the slide-rest, 6, 35, 36, 38, 40, 

43, 49, 143; 

screw-cutting lathe, 35, 40, 41, 

42, 50, 120; 

engine improvements, 43; 

work on plane surfaces, 44, 45, 

99, 100. 
Maudslay & Field: 8, 19, 35, 58, 98; 

influence on English tool builders, 


Moon's description of shop, 46- 

Maynard Eifle Co.: 161. 
Mechanics Machine Co.: 274. 
Merrick, S. V.: 

introduces steam hammer into 

United States, 96, 257. 
Merrimae Valley: 

textile works, 124, 127; 

shops of, 216-219. 
Michigan Twist Drill & Machine 

Co.: 266. 
Midvale Steel Co.: 250. 
Miles, Frederick B. : 

steam hammer, 255. 
Mill, Anton: 272. 
Miller, Patrick: 82. 
Miller, Phineas: 

partner of Eli Whitney, 148-149, 

153, 154. 
Miller & Whitney: 149, 152. 
Miller, universal: origin of, 5, 138 

note 16, 208-209. 
Milling cutter, formed: 206-207, 208. 
Milling machine: 

Whitney, 142; 

first in Hartford, 170, 194; 

Lawrence, 191; 

Lincoln, 137, 165-166, 208. 
Millwork: Chapter VI; 

Nasmyth on, 71. 
Milwaukee, Wis.: 

tool builders in, 2'^6-277. 
Milwaukee Machine Tool Co.: 277. 
Moen, Philip L.: 225. 



Montanus. Philip. 271. 
Moody, Paul: 

expert in cotton machinery, 218. 
Moore & Colby: 252. 
Morris, I. P., & Co.: 257, 258. 
Mueller, Oscar: 271. 
Murdock: 55; 

D-slide valves, 51. 
Murray, Matthew: 7, 54-57, 107; 

planer, 50, 51, 55, 57; 

D-slide valve, 55 ; 

steam heating, 56; 

locomotives, 56; 

influence on flax industry, 56. 

Nashua Manufacturing Co.: 124. 
Nasmyth, Alexander: 81, 82, 83. 
Nasmyth, James: 7, 8, Chapter 


with Maudslay, 46, 48, 87, 88 ; 

mill work, 71, 88; 

steam road carriage, 86; 

milling machine, 89; 

shaper, 92; 

method of invention, 92; 

steam hammer and other inven- 
tions, 93-96; 

study of the moon, 97; 

on interchangeable system of 

manufacture, 140-141. 
Nasmj-th & Gaskell: 92. 
National Acme Manufacturing Co.: 

multi-spindle automatic lathe, 183, 

Naugatuck Valley: Chapter XVIII; 

brass industry in, 231-238; 

pin machinery, 233. 
New Britain, Conn.: hardware 

manufacture in, 171. 
Newell, Stanford: 

Franklin Machine Co.: 125. 
New England industries: 

early development of, 109-110; 

cotton, 114; 

iron, 116, 117, 118. 

New England Screw Co.: 126. 

Newton & Cox: 266. 

Newton Machine Tool Works: 266. 

New York: early steamboat trade, 

Niles, James and Jonathan: 251. 

NUes & Co.: 267, 273. 

Niles-Bement-Pond Co.: 179, 222, 
255, 259, 273. 

Niles Tool Works: 267, 273. 

Norris, Henry M.: 272. 

North Chelmsford Machine & Sup- 
ply Co.: 124. 

North, Henry: 165. 

North, Selah: filing jig, 142. 

North, Simeon: 161-163; 

gun contracts, 131, 133, 134, 135, 
137, 162, 163; 

interchangeable system, 133-134, 
136, 142, 145, 162. 

Norton, Charles H. : precision grind- 
ing, 214, 224, 225. 

Norton, F. B.: 224, 225. 

Norton Company, The: 224, 225. 

Norton Emery Wheel Co.: 224. 

Norton Grinding Co.: 224, 225. 

Norwalk Iron Works Co.: 184. 

Oesterlien Machine Co.: 268. 
Ohio Machine Tool Co.: 269. 
Orr, Hugh: early mechanic, 116-117. 
Orr, Eobert: master armorer at 

Springfield, 117. 
Otting & Lauder: 268. 
Owen, William: 271. 

Palmer, Courtland C: 190. 
Palmer, Jean Laurent: 

screw caliper, 212, 213. 
Palmer & C.apron: 127. 
Parallel motion : 3 note 6. 
Parkhurst, E. G.: 182. 
Parks, Edward H. : automatic gear 

cutters, 214. 



Pawtucket, R. I.: 

manufacturing center, 118, 127. 

Dr. Dwight on, 121; 

manufactures of, 118-125. 
Peck: lifter for drop hammer, 143. 
Pedrick & Ayer: planer, 53. 
Phelps & Bickford: 222. 
Phoenix Iron Works: 165. 
Philadelphia, Pa.: tool builders in, 

Chapter XIX; 

early textile machinery, 246. 
Pin machinery: 233. 
Pitcher, Lamed: 

Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. : 


Pitcher & Brown, 124. 
Pitkin, Henry and James F. : 

American lever watches, 164. 
Pitkin, Col. Joseph: pioneer iron 

worker, 164. 
Planer : 

in 18th century, 4; 

developed in England, 4; 

Bramah, 18; 

Clement, 19, 52; 

inventors of the. Chapter V; 

early French, 50; 

Roberts, 51; 

Murray, 57; 

Bodmer, 75, 76; 

Sellers, 248. 
Plane surfaces, scraping of: 

Maudslay, 44, 45; Whitworth, 44, 

Plume & Atwood: 234. 
Plumier: French writer, 50. 
Pond Machine Tool Co. : 222, 259. 
Pope Manufacturing Co.: 170. 
Portsmouth block machinery: 

influence on general manufactur- 
ing, 5; 

work of Bentham and Brunei, 8, 

9, 22, 26, 27, 28; 

Maudslay 's contribution to, 29, 


description of, 29, 30, 31 ; 

Roberts, 60; 

Maudslay and Bentham, 89; 

approaches interchangeable sys- 
tem, 131. 
Potter & Johnson: 183. 
Pratt, Francis A.: 137, 170, 177; 

Lincoln miller, 165, 191. 
Pratt & Whitney: 137, 178-183; 

Interchangeable system, 179; 

gun machinery and manufacture, 

179-180, 182; 

screw threads, 180-182; 

tool-room lathe, 182; 

thread-milling, 183; 

workmen, 183 ; 

turret screw machines, 207. 
Precision gear cutter: 206. 
Prentice, A. F. : 224. 
Prentiss, F. F.: 266. 
Priority in invention : 5. 
Pritchard, Benjamin: 216. 
Profiling machine: inventors of, 143. 
Providence, R. I.: 

early cannon manufacture, 117; 

trading center, 118; 

textile industry, 123; 

manufactures in, 118-126; jewelry 

industry of, 126-127. ' 
Providence Forge & Nut Co.: 125. 
Providence Tool Co.: 125; 

turret screw machine built for, 


universal miller built for, 209. 
Providence & Worcester Canal: 219- 

Punching machine, Maudslay 's : 43. 
Putnam, John: 227-228. 
Putnam, Salmon W. : 227-228. 
Putnam Machine Co. Works: 200, 

Ramsden, Jesse: lathe, 38, 
Randolph & Clowes: 236. 
Reed, F. E. : 224. 



Reed & Prentice Co.: 222. 
Remington Arms Co.: 161. 
Remington, E,, & Sons: 175. 
Rennie, George: 54; 

planer, 50, 51. 
Rennie, Sir John: 54. 
Rennie, John: millwright, 54. 
Rhode Island Tool Co. : 125. 
Richards, Charles B,: 173. 
Richards, John: on Bodmer, 79. 
Robbins & Lawrence: Chapter XV; 

interchangeable system, 138; 

turret lathe, 143, 197; 

miller, 165, 191; 

government contracts, 190; 

Enfield rifle and gun machinery, 


cause of failure, 192; 

successive owners of plant, 192- 

194, 200. 
Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence: 189- 

Roberts, Richard: 7, 9, 59-60, 62, 


with Maudslay, 46, 60; 

planer, 50, 51, 60; 

locomotives, 61-62; 

Sharp, Roberts & Co.: 61, 62. 
Robinson, Anthony: screw thread, 

Rockford, 111.: tool buUders in, 274- 

Rockford Drilling Machine Co.: 274. 
Rockford Iron Works: 274. 
Rockford Lathe & Tool Co.: 274. 
Rockford Machine Tool Co. : 274. 
Rockford Milling Machine Co.: 274. 
Roemer: epicyclic curve, 63. 
Rogers, William A. : 

Rogers-Bond comparator, 180-182. 
Root, Elisha K. : 168-169, 170. 

influence on die forging, 137; 

profiling machine, 143; 

drop hammer, 143, 169; 

Colt Armory, 169; 

machinery invented by, 169; 
horizontal turret principle, 197. 
Roper Repeating Arms Co.: 175. 

St. Joseph Iron Co.: 253. 
Savage Fire Arms Co.: 161. 
Saxton: gear teeth, 66-67. 
Schneider, M., and Nasmyth's steam 

hammer: 95-96. 
Scituate, R. I.: Hope Furnace, 117. 
Scovill Manufacturing Co.: 232. 
Screw machines, multi-sptndle auto- 
matic : 265. 
Screw-thread practice: 

Maudslay and Clement, 10, 19, 42, 

58-59, 88; 

Whitworth standardizes, 10, 101; 

early methods of screw cutting, 


Pratt & Whitney, 180-182; 

history of Sellers' or U. S. Stand- 
ard, 249. 
Sellers, Dr. Coleman: 251-252. 

design of railway tools, 251; 

screw thread, U. S. Standard, 249. 
Sellers, WUliam: 247-251, 255; 

inventions, 247-248; 

planer, 248; 

system of screw threads, 248-249; 

bridge building . machinery, 250 ; 

great lathe, Washington Navy 

Yard, 250. 
Sellers, William, & Co.: 251, 252. 
Sentinel Gas Appliance Co. : 160. 
Shapers: developed in England, 4; 

Brunei's, 27; 

Nasmyth's "Steel Arm," 92. 
Sharp, Roberts & Co. : 61, 62. 
Sharpe, Lucian: 202; 

American wire gauge, 205. 
Sharps, Christian: breech loading 

rifle, 170, 192. 
Sharps Rifle Works: 192, 194, 195. 
Shaw, A. J.: 214. 
Shepard, Lathe & Co. : 222. 



Shipley, Murray: 270. 
Slater, Samuel: 114, 119, 121; 

Arkwright cotton machinery, 120, 


textile industry, 122; 

Amoskeag Co., 216-217. 
Slide-rest : 

in 18th century, 4; 

inventors of, 6; 

early forms of, 6, 36; 

Bramah and Maudslay, 17; 

Maudslay, 35, 36, 38, 40, 43, 49. 
Sloan, Thomas J.: screw machine, 

Slocomb, J. T.: 214. 
Slotter: 61, 
Smeaton, John: 2, 3; 

boring machine, 2, 13; 

cast iron gears, 64. 
Smith, George: 214. 
Smith & Mills: 270. 
Smith & Phelps : 234. 
Smith & Silk: 271. 
Smith & Wesson: 138. 
Snyder, J. E., & Son: 22. 
Southwark Foundry & Machine Co.: 

173, 256-257. 
Spencer, Christopher M.: 170, 175- 


turret lathe, 143, 176; 

board drop, 143; 

silk -winding machine, 175; 

repeating rifle, 175. 
Spencer Arms Co.: 177. 
Spring: planer, 50, 53. 
Springfield, Mass.: 230. 
Springfield Armory: 103, 136, 138, 

143, 163; 

Blanchard's lathes, 142-143. 
Springfield Machine Tool Co.: 271. 
Standard Tool Co.: 266. 
Stannard, Monroe: with Pratt & 

Whitney, 178. 
Steam boats: early, 82; 

Wilkinson's, 119. 

Steam engine. Watt's: 

new element in industry, 1 ; 

problems in building, 1-3; 

first built at Soho, 12; 

Maudslay 's improvements, 43. 
Steam hammer: 4; 

Nasmyth's invention of, 93-96. 
Steam heating apparatus: Murray, 

Steinle Turret Machine Co. : 277. 
Stephenson, George: 6, 32, 56, 150. 
Steptoe, John: 267-268. 
Steptoe Co., The John: shapers and 

milling machines, 268. 
Stone, Henry D.: 192, 193, 196; 

turret lathe, 143, 197. 
Swasey, Ambrose: 183, 262, 263; 

dividing engine, 264. 
Syme, Johnie: Nasmyth on, 84. 
Symington, William: iron boat, 14, 


Taps and dies: developed in Eng- 
land, 4; 

Maudslay 's, 10, 42; 

Clement's, 59. 
Taylor, Frederick W. : high-speed 

tool steels, 250, 277. 
Taylor & Fenn Co. : 165. 
Terry, Eli: clocks, 144, 171, 172. 
Textile industries: Arkwright and 

Strutt, 53 ; 

influence of Whitney's cotton gin, 


in New England, 114, 120, 123, 


Slater's influence on, 122. 
Textile machinery: 

Eobert 's spinning mule, etc., 61 ; 

Bodmer, 77; 

in New England, 114, 120-121; 

Wilkinson, 122; 

Alfred Jenks, 123. 
Thomas, Seth: clocks, 144. 



Thomaston, Conn, : dock manufac- 
ture, 171. 
Thurber, Isaac: Franklin Machine 

Co., 125. 
Thurston, Horace: 214. 
Tool builders: 

general estimate of early, 107; 

in Central New England, Chapter 


Western, Chapter XX. 
Tool building centers: 127; 

map of, Fig. 56. 
Torry, Archie: Nasmyth's foreman, 

Towne, Henry R. : 257, 258. 
Towne, John Henry: 256-257, 258; 

screw thread, U. S. Standard, 249. 
Traveling crane, first: 77, 80. 
Trevithick: steam road engine, 56. 
Turret lathes: 140; 

early producers of, 143; 

Spencer, 176; 

Howe and Lawrence, 197; 

Hartness' flat-turret, 198; 

Warner & Swasey, 262. 
Turret screw machine, improvements 

on: 207. 

Union Steel Screw Works: 198, 265, 

Universal Kadial Drill Co.: 273. 

Wadsworth, Capt. Deeius: 

on Whitney's interchangeable sj's- 
tem, 134-135. 

Waldo, Daniel: Hope Furnace, 117. 

Wallace, William: 237. 

Wallace & Sons: 234. 

Waltham Watch Works, see Ameri- 
can Watch Co. 

Warner, Worcester R.: 183, 262, 

Warner & Swasey Co.: 261-265; 
building of astronomical instru- 
ments, 263-264. 

Washburn, Ichabod: American Steel 

& Wire Co., 225, 226. 
Washburn & Moen Co.: 225. 
Waterbury Brass Co. : 234, 237. 
Waterbury Button Co.: 234, 
Waterbury Clock & Watch Co. : 234. 
Waters, Asa: 226. 

Waston, William: Nasmyth on, 84. 
Watt, James: 3, 6, 82, 83, 150, 161; 

invention of steam engine, 1, 2, 


parallel motion, 3 note 6; 

dependence on Wilkinson's boring 

machine, 3; 

opposed by Bramah, 18. 
Weed Sewing Machine Co.: 170, 

174, 175. 
Weeden, W. N.: 237. 
Wheeler, William A.: 221. 
Wheeler & Wilson: 192. 
Whipple, Cuilen: 126. 
Whitcomb, Carter, Co.: 222. 
Whitcomb-Blaisdell Machine Tool 

Co.: 222. 
White, Zebulon: J. S. White & Co., 

White Sewing Machine Co.: 193, 

Whitman-Barnes Co.: 266. 
Whitney, Amos: 137, 170, 177, 219. 
Whitney, Baxter D.: 177, 230. 
Whitney, Eli: 6, 146-147, 161, 177; 

interchangeable system, 76, 132- 

133, 134-135, 136, 145, 146, 158- 


cotton gin, 114, 131, 145, 148-158; 

U. S. contract of 1798, 131-132, 

158, 159; 

Whitneyville plant, 132, 162, 158, 


method of manufacture, 158-159; 

milling machine, 142; 

Miller & Whitney, 149. 



Whitney, Eli, Jr.: contract for 

"Harper's Ferry" rifle, 160; 

steel-barreled muskets, 160, 162. 
Whitney Arms Co.: 160-161; 

first Colt revolvers made by, 167. 
Whitworth, Joseph: 7, 8, 9, 93; 

Chapter IX; 

screw-thread practice, 10, 59, 101, 

102 note 4; 

manufacture of plane surfaces, 44, 

45, 98-101; 

with Maudslay, 46, 98; 

shaper and improvements in ma- 
chine tools, 99; 

improved methods of measure- 
ment, 101 ; 

ordnance and armor, 104-105; 

on American automatic machin- 
ery, 102-104; 

William Armstrong, 105. 
Wilcox & Gibbs Sewing Machines: 

208, 210, 213. 
Wilkinson, Abraham: 119. 
Wilkinson, Daniel: 119, 122. 
Wilkinson, David: 123, 124, 125; 

patent on slide-rest, 6; 

steamboat, 119; 

slide lathe, 119-120; 

textile machinery, 122; 

nail manufacture, 122. 
Wilkinson, Isaac: 119, 125. 
Wilkinson, John: 2, 8, 11, 15; 

boring machine, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 


first iron boat, 14; 

first iron bridge, 15; 

relations with Boulton & Watt, 

12, 13. 

Wilkinson, Ozealt 118-119, 121, 122. 
Wilkinson, William: 119, 121. 
Willimantic Linen Co.: 175, 178. 
Willis, Eobert: 69 note 5; 

gear teeth, 63, 64, 69-70. 
Wilmot, S. E. : micrometer, 212. 
Winchendon, Mass. : woodworking 

machinery, 230. 
Winchester Eepeating Arms Co.: 

160, 174. 
Windsor, Vt: 127, 186. 
Windsor Machine Co. : Gridley au- 
tomatic lathes, 194, 200. 
Windsor Manufacturing Co.: 193. 
Wolcott, Oliver: 132. 
Wolcottville Brass Co. : 233-234. 
Wood, Light & Co. : 222. 
Woodruff & Beach: 165. 
Woodward & Powell Planer Co.: 

Woodworking machinery : Bramah, 

18, 19, 24; 

Bentham, 24, 25; 

Brunei, 31; 

in Massachusetts, 229. 
Worcester, Mass. : 127; 

tool builders in, 219-226; early 

textile shops of, 220; 

gun makers in, 226. 
Worm-geared tilting pouring-ladle, 

Nasmyth's: 91-92. 
Worsley, S. L. : automatic screw ma- 
chine, 208. 
Wright, Sylvester: 200, 228. 

Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co.: 




in USA 

MAR. 1964 




Roe» Joseph Wlckham» 1871— 

English and American tool buil-derst 
by Joseph Wickham Roe* New York* 
London T McGraw-Hill, 1926. 

xvy 315 o« illus«f 24 cm* 


30 JUL SO 

3764596 NEDDbp 


TJ 1185.R6 1926 

3 9358 00012841